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On the evening of August 1, a mob of angry Muslims attacked local Christians in the district of Gojra, Punjab province, killing at least eight people, including a seven-year-old child, as well as burning and looting dozens of homes and a church building. The violence came in response to a rumour that Christians had desecrated pages from the Qur'an several days earlier at a wedding in a nearby village. This was the second such attack that Christians in the area suffered due to this rumour. On July 30, Muslims burned down dozens of Christian homes, killing livestock and damaging church buildings in the village of Korian, a few kilometres from Gojra. In both attacks, Muslim leaders encouraged the violence, using mosque loudspeakers to call on the faithful to defend Islam. According to witnesses, the attackers used a fuel that is particularly difficult to extinguish to set the fires.

Government officials have condemned the attacks with unusual severity and have criticized security forces for their slow response. They have stated that there is no truth to the allegations of blasphemy and promised to rebuild the homes destroyed and financially assist those who have lost family members in the violence. Recent reports estimate that over 200 had been arrested for their involvement in the violence.

Please pray that those who have lost loved ones in this senseless violence will know God's comfort. Pray for Pakistani authorities as they seek to restore law and order in the region. Pray that those responsible will be brought to justice. Pray that local Christians will respond to this violence in a Christ-like manner, with forgiveness and without retaliation.

For more information on the persecution facing Christians in Pakistan today, click here.