Saturday, September 5, 2009

In the Name of Blasphemy, Pakistani Christians Under Frequent Attack - 13

A Christian house is in flame in Korian Village
Photo Courtesy:

Muslim Mob Rampages Through Korian Village
in Toba Tek Singh District

2009 (July 30): On the evening of this date, Muslims in the village of Korian, near Faisalabad, announced over the mosque loudspeakers to assemble near a certain mosque for teaching a lesson to the infidel Christians who were alleged to be protecting the accused of blasphemy by burning some pages of the Quran. The nearby villages also made similar announcements over their mosque mikes. More than 500 Muslims gathered and the announcements were continuously inciting them.

After shouting "Allah-u-Akbar" (God is Great), "Kill the infidels", the agitated mob armed with iron rods, guns, sticks and inflammable chemicals, moved on to the Christian homes, ransacking, looting and setting fire on them. Forty-seven homes were burnt with a special chemical thrown on them. Two Protestant Churches -- one belonging to the New Apostolic Church and the other to the Church of Pakistan (Anglican) -- were also ransacked. The mob did not forget to snatch away valuables (radio, TV, money), water pumps, and cattle from Christian homes.

As it was night, many frightened Christian men, women and children could flee away to nearby fields and bushes.

After their misdeeds, the assailants blocked the Faisalabad-Gojra Road by lying down on it to prevent the police or fire-truck from reaching Korian, where houses were still burning.

Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad reports that the problem started in Korian on July 26, 2009, when there was a marriage ceremony in a Christian house. Some children unknowingly cut up pages of an old book (Islamic Studies) to make ticker-tape to shower on the wedding party. Next day when some Muslims found pieces of paper with Arabic script and some Quranic verses scattered about, they started to create an uproar. However, the matter was settled amicably by both Muslim and Christian elders of the village when it became clear that this had been done by children who were illiterate and there was no intention of desecrating any Islamic holy texts.

Yet the sinister forces were at work behind the scenes. They were circulating the rumour among Muslims that the Christians of Korian had desecrated the Quran by tearing its pages and scattering them on the roadside to be trampled upon. They brought the accusation of blasphemy saying that Imran Masih (the bridegroom) burnt pages of the Quran that his father Talib Masih (a street vendor who sells sweets and ice-creams to children using used papers as wrappers), brought along with some papers.

On July 31, Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal Minister of Minorities, came from Islamabad to observe the destruction. Kamraan Michael, Punjab Provincial Minister for Minorities and Human Rights, along with some Christian MPs (members of the parliament) also visited the area. They gave assurance of some government compensation and of bringing the situation back to normal.

Even after the violent attack on the Christians of Korian Village, mullahs (Muslim clerics) continued to circulate malicious rumours of the Quran desecration by Christians. As a result, Christians surrounding villages and towns of Korian, began to receive threats.

Muslim Mob Attack on Christians of Gojra Town in Toba Tek Singh District

Burnt out houses and destroyed items on the street in Gojra
Photo Courtesy:

2009 (August 1): The latest threats came to realization on this day when about 1,000 Muslims -- armed with sticks, clubs, guns and flammable chemicals -- moved on Gojra, a small town where about 2,000 Protestant and Catholic families live.

The assailants, many of whom wore masks to hide their identity, ransacked and looted 100 Christian houses and burnt 50 of them and killed nine persons -- among whom six were of the same family burnt alive in their home.

Qadeer Awan, an official of the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League party under the leadership of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif), sent his party people to Jhang to bring Islamic activists, who were masked during the attack on Gojra. They moved on this town firing their guns and some Christians on the other side tried to defend themselves by firing into the air to scare away the attackers, but they soon ran out of their limited ammunition. A few policemen there took evasive action and used only some teargassing. The vicious attack continued for five hours. Later when police reinforcements arrived, the destruction of Gojra was complete.

Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab Province, said on August 4 that the fundamentalist Taliban militants from the Swat Valley were responsible for the communal clashes in Gojra. Speaking to the media, he said: "We strongly condemn Gojra carnage. Such heinous acts of violence and brutality are not an enriching sign for any one."

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that a preliminary investigation showed there was no desecration of the Quran. "It was just a rumour which was exploited by anti-state elements to create chaos."



Bookmark and Share