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Pray for acquittal of Pakistani Christian brothers charged after Jaranwala riots

28 February 2024

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Pray for justice to prevail in the case of two Pakistani Christian brothers facing charges including “blasphemy” following the anti-Christian riots that devastated Jaranwala in August 2023.

Defence lawyers will tomorrow (29 February) ask a judge at Faisalabad’s Anti-Terrorism Activities Court to acquit Umar Saleem (known as Rocky) and Umair Saleem (known as Raja), arguing there is no evidence against them.

The men have been charged under all three of Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws – parts 295-A, B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code. The section relating to defiling the name of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, (Section295-C) carries a mandatory death penalty.

Jaranwala Christians made homeless in the riots thank the Lord for food and practical aid provided by Barnabas

The brothers are also charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act Section 9 with stirring up sectarian hatred.

At least 24 churches and several dozen smaller chapels were burned and the homes of more than 100 believers were attacked by Muslim mobs in Jaranwala on 16 August after it was claimed that torn pages of the Quran were discovered nearby.

The Punjab government’s interim report on the riots was rejected on 13 February by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. At the hearing, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was critical of the country’s “blasphemy” laws.

Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws are often used to make false accusations in order to settle personal grudges. Christians are especially vulnerable, as simply stating their beliefs can be construed as “blasphemy”, and the lower courts usually favour the testimony of Muslims, in accordance with sharia (Islamic law).

Pray for the Lord’s protection over the Saleem brothers and their legal team who have been subjected to verbal threats from zealous Muslims. Ask for wisdom and guidance for the judge in reaching a verdict in this case.

Related Countries

Pakistan