A cleric in Sialkot district disrupted a Saturday mass, abused the pastor and is now threatening to register a blasphemy FIR against him for drawing upon verses from the Quran during his sermon.
Pastor Messiah George* had been invited by Data Zedka village Christians to give a sermon at the local church.
According to Arif Hameed*, a school teacher who arranged the pastor’s visit, Qari Muhammad Fazal* disrupted the mass around 11 pm, abusing the pastor and threatening to kill him. Fazal had objections to the pastor reading Quranic verses during his sermon. “He [Fazal] tried to get through to the pastor but we were able to help him escape,” said Hameed.
Fazal called the police to the church but by the time the police reached the church, the pastor had fled. Police officials were able to “persuade the Qari” to go home after assuring him that action will be taken against the pastor.
The next morning local Christians, said the school teacher, apologised to Fazal who is still insisting that the pastor “confess to his crime”, and publicly apologise for quoting the Quran. “Fazal has warned us that we will be responsible for the consequences,” he said.
Hameed said they had also sent women to the cleric’s wife and mother to apologise. “But Fazal’s adamant that the pastor apologise over the megaphone,” he said. Hameed said that they feared agitation by Muslim residents.
Fazal, when contacted, told The Express Tribune that Pastor George had “tried to justify the Christian point of view by giving Quranic references.” He said his “blood stared boiling” when he heard the pastor quoting from the Quran. “Yes, I abused them. I would have killed the pastor right there and then but I could not arrange for a weapon,” he said.
He said he had given an application to the police, asking that they file a blasphemy FIR against the pastor and the parish.
The police, however, told him that they would ask the pastor to apologise to the cleric at noon on Thursday (today) at the office of the DSP concerned. “In case the pastor does not come,” said Fazal, “I will get the FIR registered.”
He described the police as “followers of the American agenda of protecting the Christians”.
SHO Khalid Dar, however, denied receiving an application from the cleric. He said they were trying to “resolve the matter amicably” with the help of locals.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of parties involved
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.