Furious mob tries to demolish church in Badami Bagh
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: A large number of people on Tuesday gathered at Chatti Gali, Badami Bagh to burn and demolish a Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) church after hardliner clerics from different mosques announced that the local Christians from the church deliberately burnt the pages of the holy Quran at a heap of garbage in the area.
Hundreds of people left their jobs and houses to join the mob that reached outside the church in the area and tried to attack it. However, the Christians had already called police for protection after hearing announcements of the clerics on loudspeakers.
The police reached the spot on time and stopped the mob from damaging the church or hurting any Christian in the area although the tension and scare prevailed across the area, especially among the local Christians who either remained confined in their houses or left the area to avoid any untoward incident.
Local police authorities, including Superintend of Police, Shahzad Asif, immediately intervened and convinced the enraged people that an investigation would be conducted into the incident after which the enraged people left the church area. However, the local Christians accused the police authorities of being favourable and not taking any action against any cleric of the mosques who announced provocative and false allegations against them.
A priest of the church requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation told Daily Times that the church authorities or local Christians could not even imagine to commit blasphemy and they had no clue about what had happened out there before the hardliner clerics started provoking people to join together and attack the church as well as the Christians.
He said that most of the Christians who had their relatives living in other parts of the provincial capital and nearby areas had already left their houses in order to save their children and themselves from a Gojra-type situation.
“We are not happy with the role of police in the situation because they are clearly protecting the hardliner clerics who had pinned a lie on us but we still thank God that the cops reached the scene in time otherwise it would have become another Gojra here in Lahore,” a local priest stated.
He said that the police not only avoided arresting any man who led the people to attack the church but they were also protecting extremist clerics who were calling the people by claiming that the church had burnt the holy Quran following a tragic incident which took place in the US.
Pakistan People’s Party minority wing leader and human rights activist, Napolean Qayoom, told Daily Times that the incident once again exposed the level of extremism in society and the fact that hardliner clerics were the root cause of this phenomenon.
Qayoom said that no wonder if people started killing the members of minorities in key cities of the country like Lahore when such clerics would be protected by the local government authorities. The tension was still prevailing in the area and local Christians were living in a state of extreme fear and trauma, he added.
Qayoom said that people of Pakistan, especially the Christian community had strongly condemned the person in US who desecrated Holy Quran. He said that representing the local Christians he himself demanded US president and United Nations to apologise to Muslims for hurting their religious sentiments and take action against such incidents.
Qayoom said that there were some hardliner clerics in the country who were trying to gain political mileage over the tragic incident in the US. He demanded a strict action against local clerics who incited hatred against the Christians on loudspeakers in violation of the law.
People in Badami Bagh area told Daily Times that some locals found few pages, which contained Quranic verses, burning on a heap of garbage and informed ‘chiefs’ of the nearby mosques, which led to the announcements on loudspeakers and tension in the area at around 3pm on Tuesday.
Police remained present in the area but no first information report (FIR) was registered nor any arrest was made till the filing of this report.
However, SP Shahzad Asif told Daily Times that police authorities immediately intervened into the situation and there was no threat of riots or violence in the area as the situation was under control.
Asif said that it was not such a big incident and did not deserve media coverage. The police could not find any hardliner cleric or attacker in the area but they were still investigating the case and would inform public about the outcome later, he added.