By Sybil Daniel
In August 2009, the mob violence instigated by religious bigots took seven lives and the whole village of Christian minority,Gojra , was set ablaze. This violent act continued for 5 hours and busloads of people joined the mob from neighborhoods with the police backing away. This horrifying violence left religious minorities with the question: Will it happen elsewhere again? Yes we are trend followers.
On 15th April, Christians residing in the Aziz and Gulzar colony of the Gujranwala district were forced to flee their homes in order to save their lives. Where banners were hung cursing Christians and calling them ‘sons of bitches’, it was ironically the time of the year when the Christian community is engrossed in prayer services during Lent season. Gujranwala, a city of Punjab province, has witnessed Muslims and Christians living in harmony for decades. It has been the home of more than fifty thousand Christians, head quarters of Protestant Christian churches and a prestigious theological seminary that has benefited thousands worldwide.
It practically started when Farrukh Gill was accused of burning a copy of Quran – and who was found innocent later after a police investigation. But a mob consisting of Muslim protestors gathered in the streets of Christians colonies as it was announced in the mosque to destroy houses and streets of Christians. The whole incident could have ended up resulting in another atrocity in a town that has a Christian minority. But unlike in Gojra, police and rangers controlled and dispersed the angry mob, arrested 300 people and a hundred more from their homes later that night. They didn’t let them do serious harm to lives and stocks. Only a few got hurt and one man died of heart failure in a market when he saw the violent mob approaching.
After a few days of tension and unrest in the Christian community the real culprit Qari Irfan Qadri was arrested. Who might have wished to be garlanded by the advocates of the same extremist mindset. Even though the situation is under control, the Christians of Gujranwala fear the passionate hatred of their Muslims neighbors. They still fear that in the 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 means your life is a stake and you are an easy prey.