Over 300 zealots gathered in the form of an angry mob and tried to attack a church in Gujranwala (Punjab province), Pakistan (30 April, 2011). However, the police intercepted the mob and foiled its attempt of setting fire to the church.
The enraged crowd was reacting to hearsay of burnt copies of the Koran (Islam’s holiest book) said to have been found somewhere in a Christian graveyard in the city. It was apparently rumored that the allegedly burnt copies of Koran are the act of Christians. Muslim men at once crowded in anger and marched toward the church, rendering the road blocked with tires burnt on it.
The police, however, took control of the situation by intercepting the crowd before they could reach the church. Police charged the protestors, injuring lightly a number of them. The Montreal Gazette reports that several men from the violent mob were arrested by the police. According to the paper, the number of protestors was at least 500 and they were armed with stones. Prior to heading for the church, they entered a Christian school and broke the furniture there. While the situation has temporarily been controlled, several Christian families have already fled the area for safety against potential violence.
Persecution of Christians in Pakistan has lately attracted international attention, especially after the conviction of Asia Bibi who was sentenced to death by a court in November 2010 over allegations of blasphemy. In the wake of the condemnation against Bibi’s conviction, the then Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer was assassinated in broad daylight in Islamabad in January 2011 since then Taseer has called the Blasphemy law a “black law”.
In March 2011, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland’s Roman Catholic Church criticized the British Government for its plan to raise the aid given to Pakistan. The Cardinal called the aid ‘anti-Christian’ since it was being given without stipulating the protection of Christians in Pakistan.