Riot in Gujranwala

Like the many other blasphemy-related incidents that have preceded this one, the details are somewhat unclear.


Editorial July 28, 2014

For one Ahmadi family, Sunday, July 27, brought deep sorrow and the unending pain of death, with three people perishing in a mob attack. Two of three who died were children after a house in Gujranwala was set alight by an angry crowd. The fire killed a 30-year-old woman, as well as an eight-month-old, and a five-year-old child, who all died of smoke suffocation. Seven others were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Like the many other blasphemy-related incidents that have preceded this one, the details are somewhat unclear. It seems that the incident was triggered by a picture allegedly placed on the social media website, Facebook, by an Ahmadi. This triggered an angry reaction from those living in the area, with local clerics playing a role in inciting passions, and what was witnessed was the kind of frenzy we have seen before in such incidents: a hunt began for the alleged blasphemer and the house of a local doctor where Ahmadis had gathered was set ablaze. There are claims of firing from within the house, but without a proper investigation, the truth is hard to ascertain. What we can say is that three people, including two small children, are dead and the ruthless persecution of a minority community continues.

The Ahmadis, on the basis of their beliefs, have faced ruthless brutality for years. Specific laws have been in place for decades that target them in various ways. Extremist groups, specifically targeting Ahmadis, have crept up, and as a result of their activities, intolerance for the community has spread, and this has happened because the state has totally failed in protecting them. This very intolerance caused the deaths in Gujranwala. For the family of the deceased and for those of the others injured, this is a huge tragedy. But the even bigger tragedy is the fading of the light for Ahmadis living in Pakistan. It is hard to know if we can restore some sense of equilibrium where so much hatred flows and from time to time ignites even over what appear to be the most minor of incidents, with the lack of police action adding to the problem.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (12)

Owais | 6 years ago | Reply

can anyone please share with me what that blasphemous post was all about? its subject? has anyone seen that? was it made the part of any FIR based on which innocents were killed?

Amir | 6 years ago | Reply Did you go and ask the law enforcement personnel why they did not respond. BBC Urdu had video of people present, chanting religious slogans, who can be easily identified. I do not think the local news channels had the guts to even broadcast this. Urdu papers mainly ignored it. Only DAWN and EXPRESS had coverage in print. Neighbors claim that crowd came from some other neighborhood? I do not think so. Several personal calls to Minister Khawaja Dastagir to intervene and save the situation went unabated. There has been no condemnation from protector of people, politicians...where is Shahbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Zardari, etc condemning this act? All silent, less they also get labelled as Ahmadis. I just found out that when I went to get my NADRA card renewed, and new religion has been given to us: QADIANISM (?) What is this? We had always called our self Ahmadis. Muslims are more concerned what Jews are doing to Muslims, but not Muslims are doing to muslims. Does this opinion ED matters or will make a difference? NO. It will again fade till next attack on Ahmadis.
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