LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A Catholic priest from Pakistan is calling on governments to demand justice for the victims of the “worst incident of persecution against Christians” in the South Asian country.

Father Abid Tanveer made his appeal while celebrating Mass at the British office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN UK), a papally-recognized international charitable organization.

The group reported that on a single day in August, a mob of 7,000 Muslims staged a rampage in Jaranwala, the capital of Jaranwala Tehsil located in the Faisalabad District of Punjab, targeting Christians after allegations that a Christian man had defaced a Quran.

Some Muslims living in the area claimed they had seen a local Christian, Raja Amir, and his friend tearing out pages from a Quran, throwing them on the ground and writing insulting remarks on other pages.

Tanveer, the vicar general of the Diocese of Faisalabad, said the group attacked 26 churches and chapels, as well as a cemetery and hundreds of homes, calling it the “worst incident of persecution against Christians” in the country’s history and called for international pressure to bring the culprits to justice.

“Unless justice is done, the victims of Jaranwala will never find closure. They will never feel safe,” he told ACN UK.

“Governments in the West should call for justice. The government in Pakistan will listen to the West, because they need them in terms of aid and trade. The West should write to our government and ask why Christians in our country are being persecuted and what are they doing about it,” the priest said.

ACN UK reported that within 24 hours of the Aug. 16 attack, up to 180 people were arrested as the authorities responded by sending in more than 6,000 police and paramilitary forces.

However, Tanveer said he believes there’s only a “50/50 chance” justice would be done for the victims, and the Christians in the area remain afraid.

“Jaranwala has revealed how far the extremists are prepared to go in terms of destroying homes and churches,” he said. “There remains an underlying fear that many people have. They are always wondering where and when the next attack will come.”

However, the priest also praised Muslim leaders called maulanas, noting they quickly denouncing the attacks and said it was critical for their followers to heed their message of peace and respect for religious diversity.

“The maulanas were very direct in their condemnation of the attacks, saying that they were fundamentally in opposition to Islam. They spoke very clearly. Their words can make a big difference, especially as they were boldly stated,” he told ACN UK.

“The maulanas reassured us that they were with us, and that they would try their best to demand that justice would be done,” he said.

Tanveer also thank ACN UK for giving funding, clothes, kitchen appliances, bedding, mattresses and stationery for school children.

“For many years, Aid to the Church in Need has been a great help to our diocese and especially so after this incident in Jaranwala,” the priest told the charity. “From the bottom of our hearts, we want to pay tribute to the staff and benefactors of ACN. Please be assured of our grateful prayers.”