We continue to urge all Greek Orthodox Christians and all people of good will to continue to pray for persecuted Christians worldwide, that God will comfort the afflicted and illuminate the persecutors with the light of His truth, so that they end their persecution.
“‘We are willing to die for the name of Jesus,’ persecuted Christians say as world marks day of awareness for religion-based violence,” OSV News, August 22, 2023:
On the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief, observed on the United Nations’ calendar Aug. 22, Pakistan and India are among places of particular concern for Christian rights advocates.
“Freedom of religion and belief is an inalienable human right. Yet across the world, people and communities, particularly minorities, face bigotry, discrimination and threats — to their places of worship, their livelihoods and even their lives,” Maria Lozano, press director of the Catholic pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need, told OSV News.
“Religion should never be invoked as a justification for targeting persons belonging to minorities,” the European Council said in an Aug. 21 statement.
“All around the world individuals at risk should be protected, and the perpetrators of acts of violence must be brought to justice,” the European Union body said.
That is not the case, however, in Pakistan and dozens of other countries. According to Aid to the Church in Need, “There were tears of sadness and fear in Pakistan” Aug. 20 as a crowd of 700 attended Mass outside their burned-out church in Jaranwala, in the Faisalabad district, about 330 kilometers (205 miles) south of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, following one of the country’s worst outbreaks of persecution in a generation.
People gather at a church building vandalized by protesters in Jaranwala, Pakistan, Aug. 16, 2023. A Muslim crowd vandalized churches and torched homes after two Christians were accused of blasphemy. (OSV News photo/Fayyaz Hussain, Reuters)
Amid tight security, Bishop Joseph Indrias Rehmat of Faisalabad presided at the Mass held in the streets of Jaranwala, where Aug. 16 thousands of people narrowly fled a mob of thousands who went on the rampage.
According to UCA News, over 80 Christian homes and 19 churches in Jaranwala were reportedly vandalized by Muslim mobs. ACN estimates that up to 24 churches, hundreds of Christian homes and a Christian cemetery were targeted.
The Christian area came under attack after two Christians, Raja Umar and Rocky Masih, were accused of committing blasphemy by defaming the Quran.
After the Aug. 20 service outside St. Paul’s Catholic Church, a Christian community leader in Jaranwala, who is not being named for security reasons, told ACN: “Most of the people were crying in the Mass.”
“It was a very painful time but a chance to share with one another their sense of loss and sadness,” the person said.
Although more than 30 police — including elite forces — were in attendance, there was fear among the service’s attendees.
“When we went in, local Muslims stopped and stared wide-eyed,” the ACN contact said. “They had very angry faces and began cursing us and using abusive language.”
“Jesus died for us and we are willing to die for the name of Jesus,” a Pakistani Christian named Sunil told ACN….