On Sunday, August 20, a special Day of Prayer will be held in Pakistan, in all the nation’s Catholic communities: with this announcement, the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference entrusts to the Lord’s hands the episodes of open violence against sacred buildings and the families of the baptized, perpetrated on August 16 in the town of Jaranwala, near Faisalabad, in Pakistani Punjab.
“We shall pray for peace, for interreligious harmony, to say ‘No’ to all forms of violence and hatred, which are never justified, a poison for society. We call on God, the giver of all good, and we ask all people of good will, Christians and Muslims, to stand by us, united for a peaceful Pakistan, free from hatred, where the rights and freedoms of all citizens are respected, regardless of their creed”, Fides News Agency heard from Sebasian Shaw, Archbishop of Laore, the capital of the Punjab province, the site of said incidents.
The spark for violence was the – completely unfounded – alleged accusation of blasphemy against Saleem Masih, an illiterate Christian who works in street sanitation, accused of having offended the Koran. According to some local Muslims, a number of pages in the sacred book were found to have blasphemous statements and Masih was accused. After an appeal by a local Islamic religious leader, a crowd unleashed mass violence which, in the churches and homes of Christians in the Jaranwala area, found its primary target.