ASIA/PAKISTAN - 22 Muslims arrested for the attack on the Christian area: massacre avoided thanks to Islamic leaders

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - 22 Muslims arrested and more than 700 under investigation for the mass attack against the Christian area of Sandha, in Lahore, which occurred on May 24 following accusations of alleged blasphemy committed by the Christian Humayun Faisal. This is what local Christian lawyers told Fides. Faisal, mentally disabled, had been accused of burning pages of the Koran. The crowd tried to lynch him but the police arrested him, and saved him. The anger of the protesters turned then to the houses of the neighborhood where the man lived, and only a quick police intervention avoided a "collective punishment" that could have become a massacre.
The police (in the collision an agent was wounded) registered a complaint against 700 people, arresting 22, including the imam Liaqat Jamait Islami, who incited Muslims to violence.
As reported to Fides by the NGO CLAAS, who is following the case, the Muslim leader Haji Pir Shafiq tried to stop the attackers and saved Humayun's life, handing him over to the police.
"Two other Muslim leaders distinguished themselves for their intervention in favor of Christians" says to Fides Dominican Fr. James Channan, Director of the "Peace Center" in Lahore. "The imam of the mosque in Lahore, Abdul Khabir Azad, having learned of the unrest, went immediately on the spot and stayed there until three in the morning, parleying with local Muslim leaders to stop any form of violence. Even Alama Tahir Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council, arrived at the scene to mediate. The two condemned any retaliation on innocent Christians, helping to restore calm. They acted for justice, giving a good example", said Fr.Channan: "When a Christian is only accused of alleged blasphemy (to be proved) there are people who incite to violence and a whole community is responsible. This is an incredible and unacceptable fact for the rule of law".
Meanwhile, lawyers are hoping that, given the mental state of Humayun Faisal, the accusation of blasphemy can be cancelled. In the district of Sandha there is great fear among Christians: some of them have preferred to temporarily leave their homes for fear of retaliation. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 09/06/2015)