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Pakistan witnesses a large-scale rally supporting the endorsement of violence against Christians.


Lahore, Pakistan: Following a mob lynching of a Christian accused of defiling the Quran in Pakistan, Islamic extremists at a rally on Sunday (June 9) expressed support for the homicide and threatened others.

During a rally in Sargodha that the Islamic extremist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) organized, a 74-year-old Christian man named Nazeer Masih Gill tragically perished. In a violent attack, a Muslim mob brutally murdered him.

As a result, 2,500 party members gathered to voice their opposition to the offenders’ arrest.

“Please let me know if killing that Chuhra who burned the Quran was the right decision.” Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri, the leader of the TLP Sargodha, told supporters. “We will never compromise on the sanctity and respect of the Quran, and whoever commits blasphemy will meet the same fate.”

Chuhra is a pejorative term traditionally reserved for sanitation workers, now used as a derogatory term for all Christians.

Qadri cautioned the police about going after TLP activists, stating that if they tried to defend the blasphemers, “we will rip the uniforms of senior police in the chowks.”

“They ask us to remain peaceful, but we want to tell them that if incidents of Quran desecration do not stop, we will deal with it as the incident in Sargodha,” he said as the crowd shouted slogans like, “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah [We are present, O messenger of Allah],” videos showed.

On May 25, a Muslim in the area accused Gill of burning Quranic pages in the street, inciting a Muslim mob to attack him in Sargodha’s Mujahid Colony.

The mob, including women and children, pelted Gill with bricks and stones, beat him with sticks, and kicked him as he lay bleeding on the ground. The assailant also burned down his family’s shoe workshop and looted and ransacked his house.

Despite police efforts, the mob persisted, resulting in multiple skull fractures and critical blood clots in Gill’s brain. The mob also damaged the ambulance transporting Gill to a hospital, further complicating rescue efforts.

Despite undergoing two head surgeries, the Christian patient, who was in critical condition, died from his injuries on June 3 at a hospital in Rawalpindi.

The police registered a case against 40 named and 400–500 unidentified people and have so far taken at least 45 people into custody, triggering a powerful reaction from the violent political group.

Large contingents of police were deployed in Christian settlements in Sargodha as caravans of TLP activists arrived in the city for the rally.

“Christians in Sargodha were on tenterhooks after the TLP announced they would take out a protest rally in Sargodha on Sunday,” a Christian resident said on condition of anonymity because of security fears.

Despite the deployment of police outside churches and in neighborhoods for security, a significant number of people relocated to safer places out of fear that the protesters could target their homes.

The TLP came into existence after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, convicted of assassinating former Punjab Province Gov. Salmaan Taseer on Jan. 4, 2011, for opposing blasphemy laws.

Since then, the party has carried out several violent pro-blasphemy law protests across Pakistan, killing police and damaging public and private property worth billions of rupees.

The state has capitulated to the party, and all those involved in violence, including the perpetrators of the attacks on churches and homes of Christians in Jaranwala in August, who have been discharged from the cases or released on bail.

Fear

The government has denied Christians’ demands for judicial inquiries into the attacks in Jaranwala and previous incidents, raising fears that violence will keep recurring.

On Saturday (June 8), church leaders and advocacy groups organized a demonstration outside the Punjab Provincial Assembly in Lahore to demand justice for the lynching of Gill.

The protesting Christians called for a speedy trial of the culprits in the Jaranwala and Sargodha tragedies and all other similar cases.

They also chanted slogans for the formation of a judicial inquiry to investigate all incidents of religiously motivated violence in the past decade and for legislation to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws.

Addressing the participants, Church of Pakistan President Bishop Azad Marshall said he regretted that the government was doing nothing to prevent mob violence against Christians.

“We demanded a judicial investigation into the Jaranwala incident, but the government outright rejected our plea,” Marshall said. Conducting a judicial inquiry into the causes of such attacks could have prevented incidents like Mujahid Colony had the government taken action.

The church leader expressed sorrow over Christians facing vigilante actions that disregard the law and state authority.

As per his statement, our community finds itself in a dire situation characterized by unjust accusations of blasphemy leading to loss of life, looting, and arson of our places of worship and residences, and a lack of sufficient measures taken against those responsible. “Are we lopsided citizens of Pakistan?”

Prominent rights advocate Peter Jacob echoed the church leader’s demand for judicial investigation, saying a commission should be formed under the Inquiry Commission Act of 1956 to investigate blasphemy cases.

Sajid Christopher, executive director of the Human Friends Organization, said that Gill’s death was a stark reminder of the ongoing persecution that religious minorities in Pakistan face.

“We must unite to demand justice and ensure such tragedies do not happen again,” he said.

Rawadari Tehreek Chairman Samson Salamat called for a ban on religious extremist groups that instigate violence against religious minorities under the pretext of blasphemy laws.

Salamat emphasized the need for new legislation to criminalize fabricated blasphemy allegations. They also called for an independent inquiry into all blasphemy incidents from Shanti Nagar to Mujahid Colony in Sargodha.

He said the government should show its will to control mob violence by ensuring concrete policy and strategy measures.

His statement emphasized the importance of expediting the judicial process for the culprits involved in the Jaranwala and Sargodha tragedies and similar cases.

The demonstration concluded with a candlelight vigil paying tribute to Gill.

Pakistan maintained its seventh position on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List, identifying the most difficult countries to be Christians, as it did the previous year.



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International Christian News publishes reports on the mission field, specifically focusing on the persecuted church and providing daily gospel news. The organization aims to fulfill the Great Commission, edify the global Christian community, and bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.