The Punjab police stood by and watched silently as an elderly Christian man was lynched

5.25.2024

 

Seventy year old Nazir Masih was falsely accused of blasphemy- a favorite tactic of extremists in Pakistan looking to attack Christians without recourse.  An angry mob dragged him into the street and beat him nearly to death.  He later died of his injuries. His family was attacked, his house and business were ransacked and burned to the ground. All while the Punjab Police stood by and watched.  Stories like this are becoming all too common in places like Pakistan- a place that touts tolerance to Christians, but fails to enforce the laws on its books when they go against extremist groups holding Muslim beliefs. Voice of Christians has connected with this man’s family, local authorities, legal counsel and international legal groups to ensure that this incident sparks change and helps prevent this from happening to someone else.  Enough is enough.

 

 

May 25, 2024

The recent mob attack carried out by radicals and extremists against the Christian community in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha has once again shaken Pakistan. On May 25th, 2024, elements of Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) led a violent assault based on a false accusation of blasphemy, resulting in the horrifying lynching of Nazir Masih, an elderly man aged above 70 years old. Videos of the incident reveal the mob’s brutality as they burned down Nazir’s home and factory while Punjab Police officers stood by, raising concerns about their involvement and tacit approval.

This despicable act highlights the alarming failure of the State and law enforcement agencies to curtail growing extremism despite repeated directives from the Supreme Court. It also points to the urgent need to create a safe Pakistan where Christians and other religious minorities can live without constant fear of mob attacks and lynching. We condemn the Punjab Government and the Punjab Police for failing to learn from past incidents and take concrete measures to combat radicalism.

In yet another appalling incident, the Christian community in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha became the target of a violent mob attack driven by false accusations of blasphemy. This heartbreaking event reflects a distressing pattern that continues to endanger religious minorities in Pakistan. As we delve deeper into the repercussions of such attacks, it becomes evident that urgent action is necessary to protect innocent lives and ensure justice prevails.

Failing to Protect Religious Minorities

The implications of false accusations:

Accusations of blasphemy, when unsubstantiated by any evidence, have devastating consequences for those wrongfully accused. These allegations often ignite deep-seated emotions and mobilize extremist groups who use them as justification for violence. Innocent individuals, like Nazir Masih, suffer dire consequences without due process or the opportunity to defend themselves. This flagrant misuse of blasphemy laws not only threatens the lives of the accused but also erodes the very fabric of justice within society.

The Role of Law Enforcement:

The presence of Punjab Police officers at the scene of the attack raises troubling questions about their compliance with the situation unfolding before their eyes. By remaining silent spectators, these officers failed in their duty to protect the vulnerable and prevent further harm. Their inaction suggests a lack of commitment towards upholding the rule of law and maintaining order in the face of extremist threats. This breach of trust demands immediate scrutiny and accountability.

Jaranwala Incident:

It is disheartening to note that this attack comes as a painful reminder of the Jaranwala incident just one year ago. Following that incident, which saw similar violence against the Christian community, promises were made to address the root causes of extremism and provide enhanced security measures. However, the lack of substantial progress indicates a systemic failure to prioritize the safety and well-being of religious minorities. If history continues to repeat itself, our society risks becoming unlivable for those belonging to marginalized communities.

 

 

ambulance

Demand for Accountability and Justice

Judicial Commission and Dr. Shoaib Suddle’s Investigation:

To seek justice and shed light on the events leading to this tragic incident, it is imperative to conduct thorough investigations. The establishment of a judicial commission and the appointment of Dr. Shoaib Suddle to lead a one-man commission, as directed by the Honorable Supreme Court, are crucial steps towards ensuring transparency and holding those responsible accountable. Only through diligent investigation can the truth emerge and pave the way for meaningful change.

Ensuring Protection for Falsely Accused Individuals:

In the wake of this heinous attack, it is essential to safeguard the rights of Christians and religious minorities. Any individual falsely accused of blasphemy must be granted immediate protection, both physically and legally. Moreover, efforts should be made to quell the spread of false cases that further perpetuate persecution and instigate violence. By preventing the weaponization of blasphemy laws, we can take significant strides toward protecting innocent lives and preserving harmony within our society.

Controlling the Situation in Sargodha:

With fears and anxieties gripping the Christian community in Sargodha, it falls upon law enforcement agencies to restore peace and rebuild trust. Swift and effective action must be taken to regain control of the law and order situation within the city. Additionally, concerted efforts should be made to protect residences and premises belonging to the dispersed Christian community, ensuring they remain untouched by miscreants seeking to inflict further damage.

 

VoC Legal Counsel
VoC’s legal counsel and many of their network hold signs in protest of the treatment of Christians in Pakistan following Saturdays attack.

 

Standing Strong: Voices of Support and Action

The Voice of Christians Team: Providing Relief and Legal Aid:

During times of crisis, unity and support become crucial elements in mitigating suffering and aiding recovery. The Voice of Christians team has actively engaged with victim families, offering representation, protection, relief, and legal aid. Through these initiatives, they play a pivotal role in standing up against injustice and providing much-needed assistance to those affected by the attack. By coming together, we can demonstrate unwavering solidarity and fortitude in the face of adversity.

Building International Pressure: Contacting Authorities and Media:

Recognizing the significance of international support, efforts have been made to establish contact with national and international authorities, media outlets, and organizations. By raising awareness about the dire situation faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, we aim to build pressure and encourage swift action. Cooperation between local and global entities will foster dialogue, challenge misconceptions, and help bring about sustainable change.

Praying for Peace and Taking Action: Calling the Pakistani Embassy:

While prayers alone cannot undo the pain and suffering endured by the Christian community in Sargodha, they serve as a powerful testament to the strength of faith and resilience in times of turmoil. Additionally, taking direct action amplifies the impact of our collective voice. One simple yet impactful step involves calling the Pakistani Embassy and expressing concerns regarding the safety and well-being of the people in Sargodha. Any American citizen can do this, and every call helps create awareness and keeps the issue at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds.

Embassy of Pakistan: (202) 243-6500

 

Uniting Against Extremism

The attack on the Christian community in Sargodha once again sends shockwaves throughout Pakistan, demanding urgent attention and unified action. We stand united against extremism and advocate for justice, equality, and the protection of religious minorities. By emphasizing accountability, demanding fair investigations, and supporting victim families, we move closer to the vision envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam—a Pakistan where every citizen feels safe, regardless of their religion.

Please join Voice of Christians to support efforts in Pakistan for these persecuted families, for the legal team who is working to ensure justice for those who committed these heinous acts, and by praying specifically for the Christians in Pakistan.

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