Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) spokesman Todd Nettleton says August 16th was terrifying for the Jaranwala residents, as an estimated mob of 5,000 Muslims armed with batons and sticks crashed through their neighborhood.
"They burned churches; they burned Christian homes. They looted many Christian homes, pulled all their material possessions out into the street and burned them," Nettleton details. "The attack lasted more than 10 hours."
The incident was reportedly triggered by allegations that torn and defaced pages of the Quran were found, and witnesses claim police watched the attack without intervening. Two local Christians — Rocky Masih and Raja Masih — were arrested on blasphemy charges, and more than 140 people have been detained for participating in the violence.
Many Christian families, having been warned in advance, had fled their homes to seek shelter with friends or relatives, and as soon as the dust settled, VOM was able to get to work.
"That evening, some of our Voice of the Martyrs friends and contacts were on the ground helping Christians whose homes had been burned — helping them find a place to stay that night, helping make sure they had groceries, they had food on the table that evening," Nettleton details.
At least 25 churches and 80 homes in the minority community were destroyed. Over the last month and a half, VOM's work has continued and expanded, as another 12 Christian neighborhoods have since been attacked by Muslims.
The Christian Post points out that Pakistan carries a "restricted nation" designation in VOM's Global Prayer Guide, indicating government-sanctioned harassment or anti-Christian laws. Under Pakistan's blasphemy law, the two arrested Christians could face the death penalty.
Though no one has been executed for blasphemy in the country, the Centre for Social Justice figures at least 65 people have been killed extrajudicially over blasphemy allegations since 1990.