Hundreds of Muslims in Gujranwala on Saturday, April 30, attacked Christians’ homes, a school and a Presbyterian church building after learning that police had released two Christians, Mushtaq Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq, accused of “blasphemy” and amid reports of another alleged desecration of the Quran.
Gill, an administrative employee of the Christian Technical Training Centre, and his son Farrukh, a welfare officer in the National Bank of Pakistan, had been taken into protective custody on April 15 after Farrukh was accused of desecrating the Quran and blaspheming Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. According to a May 2 Compass Direct News report, the purported evidence against Farrukh was some burnt pages of the Quran and a handwritten note, allegedly in his handwriting, claiming that he had desecrated Islam’s scripture and used derogatory language against Muhammad. A Muslim youth allegedly found the pages and note outside the Gills’ residence. Handwriting experts have confirmed that Farrukh is not guilty of this crime and the two men and their families have been relocated to an undisclosed location for their protection.
Additionally, on Saturday morning, a Muslim claimed that pages of the Quran had been burned anew in Gujranwala’s Aziz Colony cemetery in Punjab Province, according to retired Maj. Timothy Nasir, head of Faith Theological Seminary in Gujranwala. He said announcements over area mosque loudspeakers began blaring, and Muslim residents and members of extremist groups began gathering. In the wake of both announcements, a mob started rioting and hurling rocks at the Christians’ homes and at an elementary school owned by a Christian, Eric Isaac, who was among eight Christians that police took into custody for questioning. The mob also pelted the Aziz Colony Presbyterian Church building. Armed with clubs and batons, the protestors clashed with police who arrived to provide security to the besieged Christians.
Area police were quick to come to the protective aid of the Christians during the attack and around 150 protestors were arrested, with two cases registered against them for attacking Christian property and “creating a law and order situation,” police said. The remaining protestors dispersed after senior police officials assured them that they would find “the real perpetrators” of the first alleged Quran burning within three days.
Nasir reported that many of the 3,000 Christians from the area have fled for fear of further attacks. However, police have been cooperative and have assured the Christian community that only those responsible for Quran desecration in the two incidents be punished. Up until these incidents, Christians and Muslims have lived at peace in this area for more than 125 years.
Father, we call on You to bring about true peace and justice in this area of Pakistan and protection for the Christians there. May they maintain a good testimony before their Muslim neighbors and may these incidents, meant to thwart Your gospel, only serve to increase its power and spark a revival in Gujranwala and indeed in all of Pakistan.
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Christians in Pakistan fear further attacks after last Saturday assault on a Christians’ homes, a school and a Presbyterian church building in the town of Gujranwala, Pakistan. These attacks were a result of the release of two Christians who allegedly desecrated the Quran.