Christians attacked in Gujranwala by Muslim extremists while moderates take part in a rally against the violence
A mob more than 350 Muslim extremists violently attacked two Christian areas is the Pakistani city of Gujranwala on Tuesday, April 30, 2011, following the filing of what many believe was a fake blasphemy case against a Christian father and son.
According to reports the attacks also came amid unfounded reports of another alleged desecration of the Quran.
The attack on the two Christian colonies, Gulzar and Aziz, was so violent that local police have since arrested at least 32 Muslim suspects whom they believe had created the law and order situation. Some of those taken into custody, the police say, had “incited people” by making public announcements by the mosques’ public address systems.
At least 25 Christian men and women sustained injuries in this attack.
Imtiaz Bouta, President and Founder of the Christian Communication Network Pakistan (CCNP) told ANS that up until this time, more than 4 million Muslims had been dwelling peacefully side by side in this city with some ½ million Christians.
Bouta added the whole quarrel was stirred up by a handful of fanatics who registered a “fake blasphemy case” against Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Gill, a banker.
According to Compass Direct News Service (www.compassdirect.org), “Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq were released on Friday afternoon (April 29) after a handwriting expert hired by police determined that the latter had not written a threatening note accompanying burned pages of the Quran, police sources said.
“A mob started rioting and hurling rocks at the Christians’ homes and at an elementary school owned by a Christian, Eric Isaac, who was among eight Christians that police took into custody for questioning, police said.
“The mob also pelted the Aziz Colony Presbyterian Church building, they said. Armed with clubs and batons, the protestors clashed with police who arrived to provide security to the besieged Christians.
Ferhan, a member of CCNP said, “The Muslim perpetrators were armed with clubs, bamboo sticks, and pistols and they brutally beat Christians, looted their houses, and vandalized the area.”
ANS has confirmed that they also pelted two churches with stones and bricks and partially damaged them. After the attack a Christian technical training college, a seminary and schools were shut for a week.
In the meantime, a group of moderate Muslims from the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, joined with Christian political and religious leaders in the city to stage a series of rallies to protest the violence against the Christians and also for the promotion of “interfaith peace, love and harmony.”
At one rally, they marched to “Peace Square” where Jamaat-e-Islami leader Moulana Obaid-ullah Gohar, and Christian ministers, Rev. Sharif Aalam and Professor Dr. Rev. Kamil Maqsood, addressed the participants and stressed that interfaith peace was the need of the hour.
Then, as a sign of goodwill, the leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami handed out food supplies to last a month to more than 100 destitute Christian families from Aziz and Gulzar colonies. They included packages containing edibles, such as wheat flour, sugar, rice, edible oil, skimmed milk and biscuits.
Gujranwala is an industrial Pakistani city in the north east of Punjab province and is a hub for the manufacture of electrical goods.
|Jawad Mazhar is a Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christian persecution. He was born on November 28, 1976 at Sargodha’s village Chak and raised in Sargodha, a city in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from Allama Iqbal Open University majoring in computer sciences and has taught at various educational institutes in his country. He is also involved with “Rays of Development,” an organization working for minority rights in Pakistan. He says, “My aim is to help eradicate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world.”|