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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Gujranwala in crisis!

Tyres set alight thank God it was not homes this time...

Since yesterday comments on our blog site have indicated that the intensity and ferocity of protests in Gujranwala have increased, as a consequence of the release of Farrukh Mushtaq Gill and his father on Friday.

The two men had on the 15th April  been accused of desecrating a Quran and writing a blasphemous note. Despite a complete lack of evidence and a handwriting experts confirmation that the blasphemous note was not written by either of the accused individuals, vicious and vitriolic protests have ensued.

The most recent rally that started at 7:30 am on Saturday was organised by Qari Zahid Saleem, president of the Interfaith Harmony Committee of Gujranwala. He and his protesters were seen later setting fire to tyres in front of the office of the regional police. Local leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) and other religious groups also attended the rally. Many of these have previously been known to be liberal and moderate Islamic groups

Over 100 protesters were arrested while Police officers had to suffer the ignominy and danger of a sever pelting by rocks. It has been reported that the protest contained no more than 500 people, however the protests in Gujranwala are growing in intensity and frequency.  Christian homes and churches were targeted and pelted with stones. Many Christians families took Christian emblems down from their properties to avoid recognition.

The Christian community is terrified of an escalation in violence and many hold fears that we may yet see a similar debacle to the incident in Gojra on August 1st 2009, when 8 people were killed after a false Quran desecration at a wedding was reported.

Many Christians are fleeing the city of Gujranwala in particular Azizabad Colony where most of the riots have occurred. Many are now staying with relatives whilst praying for a restoration of peace.

The Police have been strong and committed to the protection of the Christian community.  The tribune reported that the Leader of Gujranwala police, Ghulam Muhammad Doger, warned the protesters that he would not allow them to target and harass the Christian community of the city. He said;

“You will only be able to attack Christians over our dead bodies,” whilst addressing rioters.

Reporting from Pakistan Eric Sarwar commented (sic):

Dear friends,

With deep sorrow and heavy heart I am informing you that this morning a mob attacked Christian population in Gujranwala, particularly, Aziz Colony. All Community is under siege and cannot even get out of their houses. Police and civil authorities are trying to control the situation but it seams to be out of control. Christian community have been living under terror since April 15 when some pages of Quran were found partly burned and allegedly a letter written in the language that was offensive to the prophet of Islam. Christians have had sleepless nights and have worked tirelessly to control the situation but ultimately this has happened. Yesterday, there was a great danger of violence but it was largely calm. At the end of the day we thanked God for the seemingly calm situation. Today early in the morning there was again an incident of Quran being found burned. Then mob gathered and attacked Christians. Police used tear gas and short some aerial as there was intense firing from the mob. Lives and properties of thousands of Christians in Gujranwala are in grave danger. Seminary and other Christians institutions are also prime target.

Please pray for Christian institutions Gujranwala Theological Seminary, United Bible Training Center for Women, Christian Technical Training Centre, Christian High School & Adult Basic Education Centre, these important institutions are back bone of Christians in Pakistan for more than 100 years and this time the armies of hell have targeted vital city and we need your prayers. ."

Our informant in Gujranwala has stated that the situation has calmed down since Saturday. However, he has reiterated that the community is deep in fear and he has called for the global Christian family to pray for an end to the community angst.

This incident has occured in the wake of the release of the leader of the Gojra protest Abdul Khaliq Kashmiri a Muslim prayer leader who had been jailed for 15 months for inciting hatred towards the Christian community of Gojra. Christians called for his release and asked for charges to be dropped as threats to the local community made a return to peace untenable, until his detention was terminated. Since being released Mr Kashmiri has called for an end to local mudslinging and has spoken for the right of all religions to practice freely.  I personally have doubts of his commitment to these words which seem very limited and a rather contrived public statement.

 Since then a further six arrested perpetrators of violence have also been released.

(Read more here)

The Government of Pakistan has shown a weakness in its dispensation of justice. Until our Christian community is emboldened enough to see the legal process through to it's appropriate penalties for crimes such as murder and incitement to hatred, the perceived impunity will continue to ferment situations similar to Gojra, Waris Pura and Gujranwala.  Our people must be made strong by the backing and protection of the Government elected to protect all it's people inclusively.


  1. Thank you so much for these updates. Our hearts go out to the persecuted Christians, our brothers and sisters, who are suffering so greatly. Please let them know that we love them and are praying for them. But...I would ask: is there something that we can do to help them on top of prayer? Is there anything organized that is helping them with food and housing? Is there a church in that community that we can help support the efforts to care for the Christians who are affected? A friend and sister, USA

  2. Many of them are only relocating temporarily their intent is to avoid personal clash. They are staying with family and friends. They are other ways to help and one way would be to fund organisations such as ours that serve to highlight the persecution our community faces which we believe will empower our community. do check our website for details of our existing appeals...

  3. churches are safe till now, tomorrow is sunday 2morrow they have announced protest with women. Area is looking like silent war zone.

  4. Praying for them that GOD KEEP THEM SAFE

  5. Dear friends,
    It is thought good help and support by the local police to protect the Christians from Muslim attackers but why have police arrested 6 more prominent Christians from Aziz Colony of Gujranwala on the name of their security and have put them in jail even they are not involved or neither pointed by any Muslim group to be accused for blasphemy. They have been arrested on 16 April. Why is police not releasing them? Even a news of the release of Mushtaq Gill and his son is false. I am giving you this quite correct information which I received from my family and friends who are facing all this persecution. Local police is giving wrong news in the media that they have released arrested Christians. Is there any internation organization which is taking any action or notice of this sensitivity of the situation of Gujranwala's Christians?
    (Emmanuel, North America)

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