Allegations Lead to Mob Violence

A fire is burning in the street. People are milling about in the background.
Angered mob members burned
Nazir Masih's belongings in the street.
Photo: ECSPE

An angry mob consisting of hundreds of people rampaged through a Christian community in Sargodha, Punjab, on May 25th. Thankfully, police were able to disperse the crowd with tear gas and rescue at least two Christian families whose homes had been surrounded. However, significant damages took place during the mob attack, and 74-year-old Nazir Masih was left with life-threatening injuries. Stirred up by Islamic clerics who accused Nazir of blasphemy, the mob ransacked and burned the Christian man's home and shoemaking business. The crowd also attacked other Christians in the community and threw stones at responding police, injuring at least ten officers.

The elderly shoemaker had been accused of desecrating the Quran after a neighbour saw him burning wastepaper outside his home. According to Nazir's family members, when the accused had gone inside his home, someone threw a copy of the Muslim holy book into the fire, leading to the accusation. His family also claims that a group of people from the city who were jealous of Nazir's successful business had instigated altercations in the past.

As of May 27th, Nazir had undergone head surgery and was reported to be in stable condition. Police state that his family is presently staying in a governmentally operated safehouse, and can return to their home when the situation in the community stabilizes. Over 100 individuals were arrested in connection with the violence and police were deployed to restore and maintain order in the area.

In Pakistan, mob violence is relatively common when accusations of blasphemy are made and then broadcasted over mosque loudspeakers. In a similar incident that took place during August 2023, thousands of people attacked a Christian colony in Jaranwala, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of buildings (learn more). Blasphemy allegations are not always propelled by religious fervour, as they may also be used as a means to settle personal scores in disagreements. For more information on the persecution encountered by Christians in Pakistan, go to our country report.

Pray for complete healing on behalf of Nazir, as well as protection for him, his family and other Christians within the community. May peace and harmony be restored in this area of Pakistan, bringing an end to the violence and destruction. Pray that legal safeguards will be instituted to prevent blasphemy laws from being misused in any way. Continue to prayerfully uphold Christians throughout Pakistan who are endeavouring to share the love of Christ in their communities, despite the animosity they may face.

  • Current Ministry Projects

    VOMC partners to train Christian women in sewing skills throughout Pakistan to provide a sustainable source of income for their families and encourage them in their faith and witness for Christ.

    Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Women’s Ministry

  • Country Information

    Population
    247,653,551 (2023 est.)

    Ethnicity (%)
    Punjabi (44.7), Pashtun [Pathan] (15.4), Sindhi (14.1), Saraiki (8.4) Muhajirs (7.6) Balochi (3.6), Other (6.3)

    Religion (%)
    Islam (96.5), Other - Christian and Hindu (3.5)

    Leader
    President Asif Ali Zardari (2024)

    Government type
    Federal parliamentary republic

    Legal system
    Common law system with Islamic law influence

    Source: CIA World Factbook

  • Pray for Pakistan

    Pray that amendments will be made to Pakistan's existing blasphemy laws so that the country's citizens – including its children – will be protected from injustice and abuse. May our Lord's mercy and justice prevail, not only in the judiciary system but also in the hearts of the country's militants. Ask Him to transform their "hearts of stone" into hearts that are receptive to His love, mercy and the workings of His Holy Spirit – not only for the purpose of protecting the Christian minority but also for the salvation of their own eternal souls.

Pakistan News

  • Blasphemy Conviction for Online Posts
    Furniture and possessions are strewn on a street. Some of them are burning.
    The riots in 2023.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    In August 2023, the Christian colony of Jaranwala was filled with violence after allegations of blasphemy were made against two brothers. During the rampage, as many as 400 homes and 26 church buildings were damaged or destroyed. For more details, and to view video footage of the attacks, see this page.

  • Wife of Nazir Masih Dies of a Heart Attack
    Naseem and Nazir
    Naseem and Nazir
    Photo: Morning Star News
     

    In May, shocking images of mob violence were revealed after 74-year-old Nazir Masih was falsely accused of burning pages from the Quran. The elderly Christian man was fatally wounded during the resulting mob violence, which also led to the destruction of his shoemaking business, along with several attacks against other Christians. Further details on the violent rampage are available here.

  • Christian Falsely Accused of Blasphemy Succumbs to Injuries
    A fire is burning in the street. People are milling about in the background. Nazir Masih's photo is also in a corner of the image.
    Angered mob members burned
    Nazir Masih's belongings in the street.
    Photos: ECSPE

    On May 25th, an angry mob rampaged through a Christian community in Sargodha, Punjab, instigated by false allegations that a 74-year-old Christian man named Nazir Masih had burned pages of the Quran. For more details on the attack, see this report. With deep sorrow, we regret to announce that Nazir succumbed to his injuries just after midnight on June 3rd.

  • Allegations Lead to Mob Violence
    A fire is burning in the street. People are milling about in the background.
    Angered mob members burned
    Nazir Masih's belongings in the street.
    Photo: ECSPE

    An angry mob consisting of hundreds of people rampaged through a Christian community in Sargodha, Punjab, on May 25th. Thankfully, police were able to disperse the crowd with tear gas and rescue at least two Christian families whose homes had been surrounded. However, significant damages took place during the mob attack, and 74-year-old Nazir Masih was left with life-threatening injuries. Stirred up by Islamic clerics who accused Nazir of blasphemy, the mob ransacked and burned the Christian man's home and shoemaking business. The crowd also attacked other Christians in the community and threw stones at responding police, injuring at least ten officers.