In August 2009, a mob of religious bigots took seven lives in Gojra, Pakistan, which has a Christian minority, and the whole village was set ablaze.
This violent act continued for five hours and busloads of people joined the mob from neighborhoods with the police backing away. This horrifying violence left religious minorities asking the question, “Will it happen elsewhere again?”
Yes we in Pakistan are trend followers.
On April 15, 2011, Christians residing in the Aziz colony and Gulzar colony of Gujranwala district were coerced into fleeing their homes in order to save their lives. Banners were hung in the streets cursing Christians and calling them “sons of bitches.”
It was the time of the year when the Christian community was supposed to be engrossed in prayer services during the lent season.
Gujranwala, a city of Punjab province, has witnessed Muslims and Christians living in harmony for decades. It had been a home of more than 50,000 Christians, the headquarters of protestant Christian churches and a prestigious theological seminary which has benefited thousands worldwide.
The trouble there erupted when Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq were accused of burning a copy of the Quran. [They were later released on Friday afternoon — April 29 — after a handwriting expert hired by police determined that they had not written a threatening note accompanying burned pages of the Quran, police sources said.
The mob, which has been whipped up by announcements in a local mosque that people should destroy houses and streets of the Christians, gathered in the streets of the Christians colonies bent on mayhem.
But unlike in Gojra, local police and rangers controlled and dispersed the angry mob, arrested 300 people and a 100 more from their homes latter that night. They didn’t let them do serious harm to lives and stocks. Only few got hurt and a man died of heart failure in a market when he saw the violent mob approaching.
After a few days of tension and unrest in Christian community the real culprit was arrested and investigated by police later after he allegedly admitted that he was the mastermind of all of the incidents that had been going on. Sources said that he was the one who framed the father and son and had trained two boys who had put the burnt pages of the Quran, that was blamed on the father and son.
Even though the situation is under control there, the Christians of Gujranwala fear the passionate hatred of their Muslims neighbors. They still fear that in future militants from neighbor villages will be invited to join the mob.
In Pakistan, having a different opinion means you are prone to hostility, but having different religion, it could mean that your life is at stake and you are easy prey.