Massive Rally in Pakistan Backs Killing of Christian

Islamist party activists vow to lynch other ‘blasphemers.’

TLP Sargodha leader Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri addresses supporters on June 9, 2024. (Christian Daily International-Morning Star News screenshot of video)

TLP Sargodha leader Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri addresses supporters on June 9, 2024. (Christian Daily International-Morning Star News screenshot of video)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Christian Daily InternationalMorning Star News) – In the wake of a mob lynching of a Christian falsely accused of defiling the Quran in Pakistan, Islamic extremists at a rally on Sunday (June 9) voiced support of the homicide and threatened others.

At the rally organized by the Islamic extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in Sargodha, where a Muslim mob on May 25 beat 74-year-old Christian Nazeer Masih Gill so badly he died 10 days later, a crowd of 2,500 party activists protested the arrest of those who killed him.

“Tell me if we were wrong in killing that Chuhra who burned the Quran?” TLP Sargodha leader Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri told supporters. “We will never compromise on the sanctity and respect of the Quran, and whoever commits blasphemy will meet the same fate.”

Chuhra is a pejorative term historically reserved for sanitation workers, now used as derogatory term for all Christians.

Qadri warned police against targeting the TLP activists, threatening that “we will tear the uniforms of senior police in the chowks [main streets] if they attempt to protect the blasphemers.”

“They ask us to remain peaceful, but we want to tell them that if incidents of Quran desecration do not stop, we will deal with it in the same manner as the incident in Sargodha,” he said as the crowd shouted slogans like, “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah [We are present O messenger of Allah],” videos showed.

A Muslim mob incited by announcements from mosque loudspeakers in Sargodha on May 25 assaulted Gill in the city’s Mujahid Colony after an area Muslim accused him of burning pages of the Quran in the street. The mob, including women and children, pelted Gill with bricks and stones, beat him with sticks and kicked him as he lay bleeding on the ground. The assailant also burned down his family’s shoe workshop and looted and ransacked his house.

Despite police efforts, the mob persisted, resulting in multiple skull fractures and critical blood clots in Gill’s brain. The mob also damaged the ambulance transporting Gill to a hospital, further complicating rescue efforts. The Christian was transferred to a hospital in Rawalpindi in critical condition, where he underwent two head surgeries but succumbed to his injuries on June 3.

The police registered a case against 40 named and 400-500 unidentified people and have so far taken at least 45 people into custody, triggering a strong reaction from the violent political group.

At the same time, large contingents of police were deployed in predominantly Christian settlements in Sargodha as caravans of TLP activists arrived in the city for the rally.

“Christians in Sargodha were on tenterhooks after the TLP announced that they would take out a protest rally in Sargodha on Sunday,” a Christian resident said on condition of anonymity due to security fears. “Though police had been deployed outside churches and in neighborhoods for security, many people left for safer places fearing that the protesters could target their homes. This is the level of fear that the TLP has instilled in the Christian community, particularly after the attacks in Jaranwala and Mujahid Colony.”

The TLP came into existence after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, convicted of assassinating former Punjab Province Gov. Salmaan Taseer on Jan. 4, 2011, for opposing blasphemy laws. Since then, the party has carried out several violent pro-blasphemy law protests across Pakistan, killing police and damaging public and private property worth billions of rupees.

The state has seemingly capitulated to the party and all those involved in violence, including the perpetrators of the attacks on churches and homes of Christians in Jaranwala in August, who have been discharged from the cases or released on bail.


The government has denied Christians’ demands for judicial inquiries into the attacks in Jaranwala and previous incidents, raising fears that violence will keep recurring.

On Saturday (June 8), church leaders and advocacy groups organized a demonstration outside the Punjab Provincial Assembly in Lahore to demand justice in for the lynching of Gill.

The protesting Christians called for a speedy trial of the culprits in the Jaranwala and Sargodha tragedies and all other similar cases. They also voiced slogans for the formation of a judicial inquiry to investigate all incidents of religiously-motivated violence in the past decade, and for legislation to prevent the misuse of blasphemy laws.

Addressing the participants, Church of Pakistan President Bishop Azad Marshall said he regretted that the government was doing nothing to prevent mob violence against Christians.

“We demanded a judicial investigation into the Jaranwala incident, but our plea was outright rejected by the government,” Marshall said. “Had the government conducted a judicial inquiry into the causes of such attacks, incidents like Mujahid Colony could have been averted.”

The senior church leader lamented that Christians have been left at the mercy of vigilantes making a mockery of law and writ of the state.

“Our people are being killed on false allegations of blasphemy, our churches and homes are being ransacked and burned, but no concrete action has been taken against the perpetrators,” he said. “Are we not equal citizens of Pakistan?”

Prominent rights advocate Peter Jacob echoed the church leader’s demand for judicial investigation, saying a commission should be formed under the Inquiry Commission Act of 1956 to investigate blasphemy cases.

Sajid Christopher, executive director of Human Friends Organization, said that Gill’s death was a stark reminder of ongoing persecution that religious minorities in Pakistan face.

“It is imperative that we unite to demand justice and ensure such tragedies do not happen again,” he said.

Rawadari Tehreek Chairman Samson Salamat called for a ban on religious extremist groups that instigate violence against religious minorities under the pretext of blasphemy laws.

“A new legislation should be enforced to criminalize false and fabricated blasphemy allegations,” Salamat said. “An independent inquiry into all blasphemy incidents from Shanti Nagar to Mujahid Colony in Sargodha should be carried out.”

The government should demonstrate its will to control mob violence by ensuring concrete policy and strategy measures, he said.

“A speedy trial of the culprits of the Jaranwala and Sargodha tragedies and all other similar cases should be conducted,” he said.

The demonstration concluded with a candlelight vigil paying tribute to Gill.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, as it was the previous year.

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