Violent Riots and Vandalism Erupt in Sargodha Over Alleged Quran Desecration – Christian community flees and one man beaten to near death


London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) In Sargodha, Pakistan, a violent mob surrounded the homes of Christian residents following allegations that a Christian man had burned the Quran. This incident resulted in the brutal beating of a Christian man and significant damage to property.

The mob, incited by these accusations, attempted to burn the houses and harm the Christian community​ 

A Christian man fell victim to the mob’s brutality, enduring severe beatings before being rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Authorities responded by deploying additional police forces and the army to restore order.

Police teams have been dispatched to Christian towns to safeguard churches and protect the Christian residents from further harm – over 100 homes have been evacuated.

An enraged mob is beating Nazir Masih for allegedly burning the pages of the Quran. Some claim that he is not responsible, stating that it was his son who burned the Quran, while others insist that Nazir Masih himself committed the act.

Sargodha, Pakistan – Violent protests and mob attacks erupted in Sargodha this morning [Saturday 25th May 2004] following allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran. Reports suggest that a charged mob, believed to be affiliated with a right-wing party, targeted multiple houses, shattering windows and setting belongings on fire in the Mujahid Colony area.

The charged mob surrounded the residence of the accused person a Nazir Masih, set fire to his house, and attempted to burn him alive. A video went viral on social media at 9:30 am (GMT 5.30am) today showing a crowd of hundreds of men in Mujahid Colony, Sargodha, intent on burning Christians alive and destroying their homes in response to the alleged desecration.

The Christians are accused of desecrating the Holy Quran, leading to the gathering of a violent mob intent on killing them. Amidst the chaos, voices within the mob are heard urging restraint, suggesting that they will burn the alleged accused instead. The derogatory term “Chuhra” is used to refer to the Christians in Pakistan, further highlighting the discriminatory sentiments fueling the violence. The mob forcefully pushes to burn the Christian man, setting fire to his residence and shoe factory amidst the escalating tension. 

In the video, the mob is seen setting fire to the accused’s house and gathering outside, trying to get him out to burn him alive. Police officials were present but failed to control the mob. The religiously charged crowd brutally beat the accused Christian man despite police presence. They also broke the windows of the ambulance intended to take the man to the hospital.

The religiously charged mob brutally attacked Nazir Masih, who was accused of burning the Quran, despite the presence of significant numbers of police officials at the scene. The mob’s aggression extended to vandalizing the ambulance intended to transport Masih to the hospital, demonstrating their intense anger and disregard for human life.

According to our volunteer, Waseem Masih Sahotra, Nazir Masih is a well-respected Christian businessman in Sargodha, known for owning a shoe factory. An unknown Muslim resident in the vicinity of Masih’s factory accused him and his son, Sultan Masih, of desecrating the Quran, inciting others to seek revenge.

Within a short span, hundreds of Muslims gathered around Masih’s residence, attempting to drag him out and subject him to mob justice. Despite efforts by law enforcement, the mob succeeded in assaulting Masih severely, leaving him unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, highlighting the grave consequences of religiously fueled violence in the region.

 In the video, a voice can be heard urging Muslims to gather immediately, claiming that the police force is siding with the Christians. The speaker alleges that the Christians have burned the Quran and calls for swift action from the Muslim community. The urgency in the voice reflects the escalating tension and the strong emotions surrounding the situation. The speaker emphasizes the sanctity of the Quran, declaring a willingness to sacrifice lives and everything for its respect, indicating the fervent religious sentiment driving the mob’s actions.

The mob set many houses on fire and commercial buildings in the area. Reports indicate that rangers and police have taken positions to prevent further damage to the lives and properties of Christians.

Burnt pages of religious books were reportedly found at the site, which intensified the protests and violence.

Our local officers are in the vicinity of the area and have expressed serious concerns over the unfolding situation in Sargodha. They highlighted the grave risk to the Christian community in Gillwala village, who are reportedly in danger from the charged mobs. The British Asian Christian Association has called on the district administration to immediately restore calm, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure that the Christian community is protected from further harm. In the UK, we have contacted the High Commission of Pakistan, requesting them to ensure the protection of Christians in the region.

Police teams have been deployed to Christian towns with the mission to safeguard churches, schools, and protect Christian residents from further harm. With many Christians seeking refuge in churches, they are relying on police protection to ensure their safety amidst the volatile situation.

While some have sought refuge in churches under police protection, others have chosen to seek safety with more distant relatives, fleeing the immediate danger in their communities.

This incident is reminiscent of a similar one in Jaranwala last August, where a mob of thousands of religiously provoked Muslims set around 26 churches and 250 homes on fire and threatened the lives of the Christians residing there.  Over 100 people were arrested for the mob violence (click here)

Juliet Chowdhry praised the actions of local police, saying:

“Police intervened promptly, managing to rescue a Christian family and relocate them to safety before any tragic incident could occur.

“The district police officer and other officials rushed to the scene to disperse the mob and restore order.

“The recent events in Sargodha reflect the persistent tension and violence associated with blasphemy allegations in Pakistan. Sterner laws are required to protect Christians from attacks associated with these draconian blasphemy laws, which must be abrogated.

“It is crucial for law enforcement and human rights organizations to work together to protect vulnerable communities and ensure that justice is served promptly and fairly.”

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