Save the Persecuted Christians Remembers Slaughter of Pakistani Christians 10 Years Ago
Those Who Serve Christ Are No Safer Today, Advocates Say
WASHINGTON—On Aug. 1, 2009, a mob of hundreds of extremists attacked Christian homes in the Gojra town in the Punjab province of Pakistan, setting hundreds of houses aflame and burning Christians alive. The dead included four women and a child.
The Gojra attacks a decade ago were a landmark example of ongoing Christian persecution in the heavily Muslim nation of Pakistan, reports Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of persecuted Christians worldwide.
Today, Christians in Pakistan are no safer.
“A decade after those brutal attacks, Pakistani Christians are still being targeted, unjustly imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus Christ,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “Christian persecution is at its highest level worldwide, and Pakistan is no exception. Over the weekend, The Christian Post reported that a Christian girl in Pakistan was kidnapped and sold off into marriage. Her family is now fighting for her release. These are daily travesties happening to Christians worldwide—and there is no exception for women or children, young or old. In fact, they are targeted even more.”
Soon after the 2009 attacks on the Pakistani Christians, TIME magazine published a firsthand account of the devastating carnage:
“The intruders wore masks and carried guns. They went door to door, through the narrow and dusty alleyways, asking if there were any Christians inside. When the terrified faces inside replied yes, they poured chemicals on the small, redbrick homes of Episcopalians and Evangelicals, setting them ablaze. In some cases, they didn’t bother with the question. Instead, they opened fire and hurled rocks, forcing families to flee in a panic—moments before fresh flames consumed their homes as well. When the attackers were done, nine people had been killed and 45 homes lay smoldering and destroyed in the clustered Christian colony in Gojra, a town in central Punjab, marking the worst anti-Christian violence Pakistan has seen in recent years.”
Unfortunately, not much has changed for Christians in Pakistan.
“Awareness about Christian persecution in Pakistan was heightened as a result of the case of Asia Bibi, who was kept on death row for nearly a decade on blasphemy charges,” Laugesen said. “Thank God, she has been released and escaped Pakistan with her family, but there are many more like her who are suffering in silence, close to death each day, because of their beliefs.”
At the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom last month, where several Save the Persecuted Christians leaders attended and made presentations, the “son of a Pakistani governor who was assassinated in 2011 because of his support for imprisoned Christian mother Asia Bibi told religious freedom advocates that there are over 200 people jailed in Pakistan for blasphemy,” reported The Christian Post.
“As we celebrate these victories, we must be mindful of the challenges ahead,” said Shaan Taseer, the son of late Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who was assassinated by his body guard after advocating for an end to the blasphemy laws used to arrest Bibi. “While Asia Bibi—the world’s most famous prisoner victim of blasphemy is a free woman—I want you all to know that there are 200 Asia Bibis in jail accused of blasphemy law in Pakistan today and these are only the reported cases.”
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
Save the Persecuted Christians works to educate about persecution in Pakistan and in locations around the world through its exhibit titled “The People of the Cross,” a series of vertical traveling banners that feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches are demolished; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; and Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List.
In Pakistan, details the banners, blasphemy is enforced and is a capital offense under Sharia law. The charge, the banner reads, “is used as a convenient excuse for the Pakistani government and its Muslim citizens to target Christians—many of whom, like Asia Bibi, are falsely accused of ‘insulting Islam’ and sentenced to death, either by execution or vigilante violence.”
“The People of the Cross” exhibit has toured the United States, reaching tens of thousands, and is available for churches, public venues and special events. To learn more about hosting “The People of the Cross,” contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where panels are available to view online.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, which released its biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World in November, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.
Because most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians has developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers with an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, such as Christians in Pakistan, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.