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Muslims in Pakistan threaten to burn entire Christian village over interfaith couple’s row

Following on the heels of the shocking case of Asia Bibi, the 45-year-old Pakistani Christian woman and mother of five who has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy, and in whose defense Punjab Governor Salman Taseer lost his life, comes the strange case of another Christian woman who has been charged with blasphemy under the country’s law that has been condemned around the world.

Hardliner Muslim clerics and landlords of the village Rana near Wandu, situated on the outskirts of Gujranwala city, threatened to torch the homes of every Christian in the community and abduct Christian girls over the love affair of a Christian boy and Muslim girl, within the precincts of Wandu police station on Saturday February 20th. A leading Christian rights activist of the ‘All Pakistan Minorities Alliance’ (APMA) Abid Saaid Gill told ANS about the sad episode.

Replying to a query about the incident, APMA’s stalwart and hands on activist Gill told ANS that a love affair had gradually developed between a Christian youth identified as Mohsin Masih, alias Chandu (24 years old) and a Muslim girl of the Rana village’s blacksmith identified as Muhammad Asghar’s 23-year-old daughter Amina Bibi.

Both the lovers planned to elope and successfully absconded to get married, said Amjad Masih a local Christian elder of the Rana village talking to ANS. But the situation became horrible for local Christians in Rana village and Wandu village, as Muslim clerics and local Muslim landlords started to threaten Christian villagers. They also submitted an application at Wandu Police Station against the Christian youth and his family.

When ANS inquired about the kinds of threats Muslims hurled at local villagers Abid Saaid Gill recounted that Muslim fanatic clerics, accompanied by local Muslim influential and rich land owners threatened to torch houses of the local Christians. They also threatened of dire consequences including forcibly evicting the local Christians from the villages and most terrorizing of all the threats was to abduct Christian girls and rape them.

Abid Saaid Gill of Gujranwala city further said Amjad Masih of Rana village told him about the sad and painful episode and pleaded APMA to intervene as police had also started to threaten local Christians and search the interfaith couple.

According to the statement of Gill, obtained by ANS, APMA intervened and contacted high level police officials including Superintendent of Police (SP) of the Criminals Investigation Agency (CIA) of Civil Lines circle and Station House Officer (SHO) of Wandu Police Station.

Abid Saaid Gill and Amjad Masih both said due to the joint hectic efforts of APMA and police the interfaith couple was recovered, who were still trying to tie knots through the local court, unaware that the situation behind them for Christians was deteriorating and hapless impoverished Christians, most of them laborers were living under the shadow of constant fear for their homes and girls.

After the recovery of the interfaith lovers on Saturday Feb 20th the girl was returned back to her parents, but Wandu Police put the Christian youth Mohsin Masih alias Chandu of Rana village behind bars and started investigations and interrogating the Christian youth, who constantly denied kidnapping the Muslim girl, said Gill talking to ANS.

On the other hand the local court summoned the Muhammad Asghar local ironsmith’s daughter to record her statement in the court house, Gill went on to say to ANS about the girls statement. In the courthouse Amina Bib daughter of Muhammad Asghar recorded her statement that she was sui-juris and that Christian boy Mohsin Masih alias Chandu had not abducted her instead she eloped with him willingly.

Abid Saaid Gill said after Amina Bibi’s statement in favor of the Christian youth Chandu local court as well as Wandu Police Station exonerated the Christian of all the allegations levelled against him by the Muslim clerics and Muslim landlords. The case of abducting a Muslim girl against Mohsin Masih was also revoked and he was set on liberty after three days by Wandu Police station, added Gill.

Although after feverish efforts the interfaith lovers were recovered by APMA and police the Muslims kept threatening Christian villagers, Gill and Amjad Masih said talking to ANS, and local Christians were living under constant fear of death. Both Christian leaders said they appealed local Wandu Police Station SHO and SP CIA for protection of the Christians.

On the request of APMA 200 (two hundred) armed Policemen led by SHO Wandu police arrived in the village to ensure that Christians remain safe and no Muslim fanatics dare to touch any of the Christians. Amjad Masih a Christian rights worker of APMA and local resident of Rana village said SHO and 200 policemen remained in the village until 4am on the February 22nd.

Amjad Masih and Abid Saaid Gill both thanked the Lord Jesus Christ that the dispute between Muslims and Christians was resolved peacefully, although they threatened to make it second Gojra to teach a lesson to Christians not to dare falling in love with a Muslim girl.

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.”

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