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Apr-04-2013 12:29printcomments

Attacks on Pakistani Christians in Gujranwala Continue After Lahore Incident

A Muslim mob from the nearby Naroki village attacked the neighborhood, ransacking shops, houses and around 5-7 vehicles parked on the road.

Salem-News.com writer Shamim Masih in Pakistan surveys the damage from violent clashes between minority Christians and area Muslims.
Salem-News.com writer Shamim Masih in Pakistan surveys the damage from violent clashes between minority Christians and area Muslims.

(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) - On Wednesday afternoon, I was asked to check whether something happened against the Christians of Gujranwala.

Blood from the injured

I called one of my friends, Eugien John in Gujranwala, who confirmed the incident. So I started my journey with Tariq Chaman (Editor Punjab Express) towards Gujranwala after having instructions from Wilsom Chaudhry, chief of British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).

According to Eugien John, a violent Muslim mob attacked Christians of the colony called Francis abad on Wednesday arond noon. The mob damaged shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the Christians of the area following a clash between the youths of the two communities the night before.

"It’s interesting that some of the Christian boys provided the leadership to motivate resistance and prevent another tragedy. The police stood as bystanders for over two hours while mosque speakers were used to ferment hate," said John.

Before the leaving from Islamabad, I asked Basharat Khokhar (police constable and Christian activist) to keep in touch with the police high official who took this incisive arrangement and remain in touch throughout our coverage of the incident.

Motorcycle belonging to local Christian after attack

On reaching there, Saif Ullah Virk - of the local police station, told me that two boys of the Christian community were snubbed by the local Muslims for playing Christian songs while travelling in the local vehicle (Chand Gari).

A chand gari

Basharat Khokhar (right), the Man Behind Rimsha's Release

This was followed by a renewed attack on minorities, as a violent young Muslim mob attacked a Christian locality in Francisabad, on Sheikhopura road, damaging shops, houses and vehicles belonging to the local Christians. As word spread of the incident, the intervention of the nearest police post in the colony stopped it from becoming another Badami Bagh event, said the police official.

“Our boys were travelling by Chand gari and playing religious songs (geet), Muslim boys objected to their playing music on chand gari. The boys turned off the music at that moment but switched it on again after covering some distance. The cleric raised a clamor and accused the boys of showing disrespect to Islam. As word spread of the incident, we immediately went to the police post in our colony and shared our security concerns with them. The police told us not to worry and assured us that they would contain the situation but no measures were taken,” said Mushtaq, a resident of Francis Colony and prominent personality in the town.

Shamim stands in front of the wreckage in Francisabad

Catholic Church, Francisabad

Pastor Morris of the FGA church said that around 2:00 p.m., a Muslim mob from the nearby Naroki village attacked the neighborhood, ransacking shops, houses and around 5-7 vehicles parked on the road. “We saw a police mobile of the area’s check post parked in the vicinity but they did not intervene and let the mob damage our property,” he said, adding that the mob dispersed after local Christians took out their weapons and started firing in the air to deter them.

After playing the role of a silent spectator, the police took action and resorted to aerial firing and hurling stones indiscriminately at the mob to disperse it. The mob also pelted stones back at the police, said Father Shakil and Father Jehanzeb. Shamoon s/o Inayat, Asher s/o Aashiq, Marqas Javaid and Rani Joseph were injured during the incident and were taken to the nearest hospital.

We remained there till 2:00 a.m.. A heavy police force stayed on scene there to keep the situation under control. Christian youngsters (volunteers) were also patrolling there. So far the situation is under control but it can turn to any other time. It is necessary to take positive steps to stop the violence against the Christians of the country.

About Shamim Masih

"I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world."

Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura's village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan's Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim's articles have been published in local papers as well.

You can write to Shamim at this address: shamimpakistan@gmail.com

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