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7/2/2024 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) — An anti-terrorism court in Sahiwal, Pakistan on Monday sentenced a Christian man to death for his alleged role in inciting the Jaranwala riots that occurred in August 2023.

Authorities arrested Ehsan Shan three days after thousands of Muslim men burned more than 200 homes and two dozen churches in the Christian community of Jaranwala. The riots started after locals claimed they saw two Christian men desecrating pages from a Quran. While Shan did not participate in the alleged blasphemy, the court found him guilty of sharing “hateful content” that blasphemed Islam on social media. He allegedly posted footage of the desecrated Islamic text on TikTok.

After announcing the verdict, Judge Ziaullah Khan also sentenced Shan to 22 years in prison and fined him 1 million Pakistani rupees. Shan’s lawyer, Khurram Shahzad, said he would appeal the verdict.

“This is what justice looks like in Pakistan,” an ICC staffer said. “Radical Muslims burn down dozens of homes and churches, and the only ‘justice’ being served is putting the Christians who called it out to death. The blasphemy law does not protect Islamic ideals; it kills Christians.”

Punjab authorities claimed in 2023 that they had detained nearly 130 suspects for their role in the attacks on the Christian community. According to Akmal Bhatti, chairman of the Minorities Alliance, most of those detained had been discharged or freed on bail. Only a dozen suspects face trials, Bhatti added.

Earlier this year, the two Christian brothers charged with desecrating the Quran were acquitted. A court in Faisalabad determined they had been framed following a personal dispute.

On Tuesday, Pakistanis, including several Christians, rallied against Shan’s death sentence in Karachi.

Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which are often weaponized against Christians, prohibit the desecration of the Quran. Those who violate the laws are often killed.

ICC continues to serve the victims of the Jaranwala riots. We initially responded with food aid. Then, we replaced lost home goods and collaborated with local partners to provide trauma training and help rebuild communities. Today, we continue to help restore the livelihoods of those who lost their source of income by providing rickshaws, livestock, and trade equipment.

To read more news stories, visit the ICC Newsroom. For interviews, please email [email protected].