A Muslim antagonist of Christian community calls friends to help him flee with friend injured from attempted church vandalism.
A Muslim fanatic climbed onto a church roof and chanted Islamic verses as he tried to terrorise a local community while vandalising a large cross.
In his attempt to wrench the large cross from the church he fell off the building and was nursed by the Christians who gave him water and placed him on a charpai (rope bed), to help him recover while police arrived.
You can watch his attempts to destroy the church while uttering Islamic chants here.
At 10am, 16th March 2021, local Christians living near ‘One in Christ Church’ in Green Town, Lahore, were disturbed by a group of Muslim men intent on causing fear in the Christian community.
A group of three men began hurling insults at local Christian men while ogling and making lewd gestures towards young Christian girls.
One of the men named Muhammed Bilal Saleem became more incensed then the rest of his friends. He entered a a local factory adjacent to the church and climbed their stairs onto the roof of the building. From there he jumped across to the roof of the church, where he straddled a large cross on a metal support frame. Bilal was filled with clear religious zeal, began swinging on the cross and its base structure violently while chanting ‘Allah-hu-Akbar and other Islamic words.
A large group of Christians gathered to see what the commotion was. Witnesses say that Bilal was with intent to tip the cross over the church building and in such a religious frenzy, he was risking his life to do so. Many of them called the local police and were told a police team was being sent to investigate and restore peace immediately.
However, Bilal’s attempt at damaging the cross over a 20 minute period failed. On one of the swings, he tried to jump off when the cross teetered over the edge of the church missed his footing and came crashing down about 40ft. Fortunately for him he landed on his feet, his knees crumpled and he survived without breaking any bones. Bilal was winded however, and suffered bruised along with impact pain.
Church members and other Christian people rushed to his rescue and in a country known for its religious fundamentalism, they showed a real example of love. Instead of beating the man or lynching him, which many Muslims would do for much lighter religious offence, the Christian community placed the man on a charpai and brought him water.
His friends who had joined him in the initial abuse of local Christians saw that he was in some distress and joined him on the charpai. Despite the kindness of the Christians who gave comfort to their friend they were abusive and tried to take him away from the area before the police arrived. But the large local Christian community refused to let them leave without first being met by police.
In the main image for this post you can see Bilal’s friend trying to contact other Muslim men to help them exit. If they had arrived before police a really dangerous attack on the Christian community could have ensued. Fortunately, however before the man could muster up a large number of colleagues police arrived, approximately 45 minutes after the initial incident. They then investigated the scene and took Bilal to Green Town Police Station where he was later released.
Muhammad Bilal is a worker at a factory where window grills which is located some distance away from the area. However, it seems he and his friends lives close to the Green Town Church and this has created anxiety amongst the local community.
Mr M.M Akash, son of Bishop M.M Waqas who is in charge of One In Christ Church was the first person to call police to the incident using the emergency 15 number. He described the incident to BACA’s field officer in a direct conversation and said:
“The police arrested Muhammad Bilal but released him at the police station.
“I returned to the police station around 5:00 pm with a legal team and was disappointed that police wanted to take no action and released Bilal without charges.
“We have a frightened Christian community and the police wanted to just ignore the whole incident.
“Under the duress of my legal team and an approach we made to the Superintendent of Police and then Inspector General of Police an FIR was filed at 2:00 am.
“It took a full 9 hours to be taken seriously by a police who often laughed about the incident saying it was a prank.”
FIR No.951/22 has been filed against Muhammad Bilal under sections 295, 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code for blasphemy, under the advice of the police. Attempts are also being made to convict Bilal for trespass and criminal damage. No action is being taken against the cohorts of Bilal despite their involvement in the abuse and vandalism. This even though witnesses have spoken of their involvement and it was proven that they egged their companion on.
Injuring or defiling place of worship, with Intent to insult the religion of any class:
Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship, or any object held sacred by any class
of persons with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons or with the
knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction damage or defilement as
an insult to their religion. shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term
which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its
religion or religious beliefs:
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the ‘religious feelings of any class of
the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults
the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both
Mr. Waqas has advised BACA that since the police investigation suspicious persons have been seen wandering around his house asking for him. Two unknown persons also knocked at his door the next morning and asked his wife about the investigation. They then warned her to drop the case to avoid repercussions and offered a compromise payment if she dropped all charges.
A similar attack on a church happened in Chadwell Heath, London in the UK last year (click here). For many Muslims the symbol of the cross triggers great hatred as it reminds them that Christians believe Jesus Christ was part of the Trinity of God. Jesus as a deity is a concept that is anathema to Muslims who believe he was removed from the cross before dying and may even have been replaced with Judas Iscariot. They believe as a prophet of God he died a natural death and that the cross is haram (evil) and not a death befitting a prophet.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“This unprovoked attack is a symptom of the decades of Islamist preaching in Pakistani mosques.
“Coupled with the caricaturising and demonising of minorities in Pakistani textbooks the nation is amongst the most intolerant in the world.
“Life for Christians in Pakistan is hard and full of prejudice.
“Even then when a man is hurt, whatever abuse or violence he has subjected on Christians – we rush to help.
“It is pitiful that even in an act of kindness Muslims can react with hate but Pak-Christians have come to terms with this.
“We continue to hope and pray for a more equal, fair and just society.”
British Asian Christian Association continues to report on the persecution of Christians in South Asia, a task we have been called to do since 2009. We challenge international governments and bodies to be more pragmatic in their relationships towards leaders in the Indian subcontinent to ensure Christians and other minorities are kept safe. We could not do this work without your support. If you have read one of our reports and feel moved to donate towards our regular mission costs, please (click here).