Girl in Arabic print shirt saved from mob by Lahore police

Published February 26, 2024
A policewoman protects the teenage girl from a mob in Lahore.
A policewoman protects the teenage girl from a mob in Lahore.

LAHORE: Timely action by police saved a teenage girl wearing a dress with Arabic calligraphy printed on it from attack by a charged mob, alleging she committed blasphemy, in the crowded Ichra Bazaar here on Sunday.

The situation turned ugly after someone alleged that the girl’s dress was bearing Quranic verses. However, some shopkeepers defended the girl and sheltered her in a shop, telling the mob it was just an Arabic calligraphy print.

As per eyewitnesses, most of the charged people in the mob were either customers, visitors or passersby and the garment traders who rescued the girl were aware of the clothing with Arabic calligraphy print avaiable in the market.

A video clip taking rounds on social media shows the girl hiding in a shop shivering with fear of being attacked by the mob on blasphemy charge, an allegation that resulted in public lynching in many incidents in the past across the country.

The footage showed the girl denying the allegations of insulting religion, saying she has done nothing intentionally as the clothing with Arabic calligraphy was commonly wore in Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.

The shopkeepers also endorsed her views saying the industry has encouraged clothes carrying Islamic/Arabic calligraphy and the alphabets and words on her shirt had nothing to do with the holy verses.

The witnesses says that though after the traders’ explanation, the mob got divided into groups having different views, still some charged zealots kept on insisting on “blasphemy” charge.

On this, the witnesses say, one of the traders called the police to avert any untoward incident resulting in harm to the girl.

Meanwhile, some police officials reached the spot and sensing that it has been turned into a sensitive issue, reported it to their high-ups who ordered them to act quickly and rescue the girl to avoid any untoward incident.

A police team engaged the crowd and some officials took the girl into protective custody and shifted her to the police station amid heightened security measures.

Senior police officers also reached the police station and inquired about the incident.

They examined the dress and then briefed the charged crowd that the girl has not violated or disrespected the religion.

Another social media footage shows Gulberg Circle ASP Shehr Bano addressing the mob and trying to convince them that no blasphemous act had been committed by the girl.

“During my service, I have handled three such incidents, and you should have trust in us [police],” she could be heard telling the mob. She then covered up the girl and personally escorted her out of the crowd, the clip shows.

The police officers explained that the meaning of one of a word ‘Halwa’ written in Arabic calligraphy on the dress the girl was wearing was not a holy word.

During an hour or so custody of the terrified girl, ASP Gulberg circle briefed the media persons that the alphabets on the shirt the teenage girl was wearing have nothing to do with Quranic verses.

The girl in her statement strongly rejected the allegations of committing blasphemy, saying she could not even think of disrespecting Islam as she was from a religious family.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

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