Clerics on Friday said the Jaranwala rampage was against the teaching of Islam and called on the government to take strict actions against perpetrators.
On Wednesday, a mob targeted the Christian community in Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad, leaving over 20 churches and over a dozen homes in ruins.
As per police and local sources, the violence erupted after some locals alleged that several desecrated pages of the Holy Quran had been found near a house at Cinema Chowk in Jaranwala, where two Christian brothers resided.
A day earlier, Punjab police had arrested at least 140 alleged miscreants, including two prime suspects, and registered five cases.
The first information reports (FIRs) registered with the Jaranwala City police included Section 295 (desecration of a worship place) and Section 295-A (hurting religious feelings) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act had also been inserted in the FIRs besides other sections related to attacking, burning and damaging properties of the Christian community.
Those arrested by the police included main suspect Muhammad Yasin, identified through a video in which he was seen making an announcement on loudspeakers of mosques to incite Muslims against the religious minority, urging the former to come out of their homes to participate in riots. He reportedly made announcements from five mosques.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has vowed to restore all the churches and homes of the Christians destroyed by the mob within the next three to four days.
Taking to X (formerly Twitter) today, prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani called the Jaranwala incident “shameful” and “highly condemnable”.
“If someone has committed an unlawful act, no one is authorised to take law in his hand and burn the church or assault any peaceful Christian citizen,” he stressed.
Mufti Taqi further stated that the incident was “totally against the basic and classic Islamic teachings” and “is tantamount to defacing Islam and Muslims”. He also called on the government to take action against it.
Separately, in a press conference, Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Maulana Abdul Khabeer Azad said a high-level commission should be constituted to probe the Jaranwala rampage.
“We should remember that Pakistan is a state and will take action against anyone doing anything wrong. But not everyone has permission to set up their own courts and set houses on fire,” he asserted, recalling the times when the Christian community stood with Muslims and protested against the desecration of the Holy Quran.
“We have been ashamed in front of the entire world,” he said. “We have always, from Karachi to Khyber, Azad Jammu and Kashmir to Gilgit-Baltistan, propagated interfaith harmony.”
Pakistan, Maulana Azad continued, belonged to everyone. “Whether it is the Holy Quran, Torah or Zabur … their respect and honour is a part of our faith.”
The scholar then read out a verse from the Holy Quran and said that the murder of one person was the murder of humanity while saving one life was equivalent to protecting humanity.
“Today, our hearts are surely aggrieved […] I just arrived from Madina today but when I received reports about this incident I was in extreme pain.”
Maulana Azad demanded that those involved in the Jaranwala violence should be given an “exemplary punishment” and stressed the need to make Pakistan free of violence, terrorism and disruption.
A day earlier, Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi had also apologised for the Jaranwala violence and reaffirmed the commitment to protect “our Christian brothers”.
All efforts being made to restore churches, Christians’ homes: Naqvi
Meanwhile, Punjab interim Chief Minister Mohin Naqvi said the provincial government was making all-out efforts to restore the churches and Christians’ homes vandalised in the tragedy.
He also promised financial assistance for the affectees.
In a meeting with a Christian delegation in Lahore today, Naqvi said the administration had collected evidence from the crime scene. “The criminals will be arrested and brought to justice,” he vowed.
Naqvi added that it was the state’s responsibility to protect the life and property of the Christian community, highlighting that effective measures needed to be taken to prevent such a tragedy in the future.
Earlier today, the chief minister also stated that Friday sermons in mosques across Punjab would focus on the rights of minorities.
“Today, Friday sermons across Punjab will focus on the rights of minorities, teachings from the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” he said in a post on X.
“Amid challenging times, let’s emphasise that such incidents should not be coloured by religion. Interfaith harmony is among the basic teachings of Islam,” the chief minister said.
“Grateful to religious scholars for their patience and support in unmasking those seeking to disrupt our nation’s peace,” Naqvi added.