Losing control... By Irfan
20 March, 2013
Yet another horrific incident has shocked the nation. This time an enraged crowd attacked the minority Christian neighbourhood of Joseph Colony in Lahore and set on fire over 150 households and two churches. Similar to the previous events of this kind, a sanitation worker was accused of blasphemy and the infuriated mob decided to punish the whole community without any proof or legal proceedings.
According to some media reports, this incident was a result of personal rift between two friends and the poor sanitary worker was wrongly accused of blasphemy in return of a personal revenge. Another time the religious and politico-religious organisations have failed to condemn this horrific incident, leaving the non-Muslim segment of the nation at the mercy of violent mobs. Another unfortunate episode of this story is that the larger segment of civil society, not to mention the insensitive political parties, was not vocal enough against this heinous crime.
This latest event is a stimulating memory of the attack on a Christian locality in Gojra in 2009 when workers of a banned outfit went door-to-door setting fire to Christian homes and churches. Both the events happened in the vicinity of a 200km radius in the prosperous region of central Punjab. However, the Punjab government has failed to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. The killers of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti have still not been prosecuted and the government is shy of taking measures to stop the religious hatred for fear of losing the vote bank in the upcoming elections.
Christians are a small minority in about 98 per cent of a Muslim-majority country. Although the Muslim majority is expected to look after and protect the minorities according to Islamic laws, a larger portion of the Christian community is working as low-paid cleaners and living in miserable conditions. The recent attacks in the name of blasphemy will only increase the miseries of the already-devastated religious minorities.
The Christian community has protested, demanding the Punjab government to provide effective protection from such events in future but the hopes for any strong step are gloomy, keeping in view the past performance of the Punjab government.