Unfolding Story of the Jaranwala Incident-Arrest of Robert Charles

On the morning of 16th August, an angry Mob of Muslims ransacked and vandalized churches in Jaranwala, Punjab, which is located 35 km southeast of Faisalabad. The attackers ransacked 19 churches and burned 87 Christian homes, looting money, jewelry, and anything else they could carry before ablaze them.

According to reports and information, the incident took place in the early morning of August 16 when the Muslims of the Christian Colony found torn pages of the Quran along with a letter and a picture of Raja Amir and his father Saleem Masih.

Surprisingly, the writer mentions the home address, telephone number, and CNIC number at the top of the letter. However, the question arises that if someone insults the Quran, why would he list his home address, telephone number, and CNIC number?

These pages were deliberately thrown outside the houses of the Muslims so that they would find them when they woke up in the morning. Exactly that happens!

As the accused family’s son, Rocky Saleem, was passing by the Muslim house, the woman and her family asked him about all the documents they found. After taking the Quranic pages and the paper, Rocky went to his home with the Muslim family. Neither his father nor brother has admitted to any such acts. A Muslim family returned home believing that someone was framing them for blasphemy.

A few moments later, similar documents were found on the second street of this colony. And then within minutes, the news spread like wildfire throughout the colony. Twice the Muslim mob tries to enter the Christian area, but the local Muslims stopped them, the major role was played by Muhammad Imran Qadri who was from that same area. Twice he persuaded the crowd to return to their homes and these Christians are also our brothers and if anyone has committed a crime, the police and courts will give us justice.

Later, a large mob of more than a thousand entered the colony and when Imran Qadri tries to stop them, they threaten him. He and many other Muslims saved dozens of Christian homes by placing prayer rugs and Quranic verses on Christian doors. Local Muslims of the colony helped dozens of families to escape and provide shelter to women and children.

If on the one hand Muslims were vandalizing houses and destroying churches, on the other hand, many Muslims were saving Christians. This was a clear case of misuse of blasphemy to persecute someone.

Since the empowerment and introduction of these laws by Zia-ul-Haq, hundreds of Christians have been sentenced to life imprisonment, the death penalty, or killed by Muslim mobs. Several attempts have been made to amend or remove these laws but unfortunately, all efforts have been futile.

This law is often used to settle personal vendettas or personal animosity against each other. And that is exactly what happened in this case.

A few months ago, Raja Amir’s family had a bitter quarrel and fight with a Christian named Robert Charles, who resorted to blasphemy for settling personal vendettas. He knew very well that either the Muslims would kill the entire family, or they would be behind bars for a long time. He was caught on CCTV cameras and is now in police custody.

Farrukh Saif, the Co-founder, and International Director of ECSPE stated that this is not the first time when Blasphemy law is misused. Rayan Stanton, Martha Bibi, Amanat Masih, Sajid Masih, and many others were falsely accused, it is a never-ending saga. He further said that 19 churches were destroyed, and 87 houses were vandalized as a result of the misuse of blasphemy laws.

The government of Pakistan should take strict measures to avoid any such incident in the future and at the same time it is the responsibility of the Muslim scholars to educate and guide their fellow Muslims not to take the law into their hands.

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