Massive Rally by TLP extremists in Sargodha

In the aftermath of the brutal mob lynching of a Christian man falsely accused of defiling the Quran in Pakistan, Islamic extremists rallied on Sunday, June 9, to voice their chilling support for the homicide and issue further threats. The rally, organized by the extremist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in Sargodha, followed the death of 74-year-old Christian Nazeer Masih Gill, who succumbed to his injuries ten days after a Muslim mob mercilessly attacked him on May 25.

A crowd of 2,500 fervent party activists gathered to protest the arrest of those responsible for the murder. The atmosphere was charged with anger and defiance as TLP Sargodha leader Muhammad Naeem Chattha Qadri addressed the supporters with incendiary rhetoric. “Tell me if we were wrong in killing that Chuhra who burned the Quran?” Qadri demanded of the crowd, using a derogatory term historically reserved for sanitation workers but now employed as a slur against Christians. “We will never compromise on the sanctity and respect of the Quran, and whoever commits blasphemy will meet the same fate.”

Qadri’s words resonated with the crowd, fueling their outrage and emboldening their resolve. He warned the police against targeting TLP activists, issuing a menacing threat: “We will tear the uniforms of senior police in the chowks [main streets] if they attempt to protect the blasphemers.” His declaration was met with cheers and chants from the assembled masses, who echoed his sentiments with slogans like, “Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah [We are present O Messenger of Allah].”

As the rally progressed, the fervor of the participants grew, their collective anger palpable in the air. Qadri’s chilling proclamation, “They ask us to remain peaceful, but we want to tell them that if incidents of Quran desecration do not stop, we will deal with it in the same manner as the incident in Sargodha,” reverberated through the crowd, their voices rising in unison, a grim testament to the volatile and dangerous climate of intolerance and extremism that had taken hold.

The videos of the rally captured not just a gathering of individuals, but a seething mass of hatred and fanaticism, united by a distorted sense of justice and an unwavering commitment to violence. The tragic death of Nazeer Masih Gill was not just a loss of life, but a stark reminder of the perilous state of religious minorities in Pakistan, where the flames of extremism continue to burn unabated.

On May 25 in Sargodha, a chilling chain of events unfolded as a Muslim mob, incited by mosque loudspeakers, descended upon 74-year-old Christian Nazeer Masih Gill in the city’s Mujahid Colony. The accusations were swift and damning—an area Muslim claimed that Gill had burned pages of the Quran in the street. What followed was a harrowing scene of collective brutality. The mob, which included women and children, hurled bricks and stones at Gill, beat him with sticks, and kicked him relentlessly as he lay bleeding and helpless on the ground. The violence did not stop there; the mob set fire to his family’s shoe workshop, looted, and ransacked his home, leaving nothing but devastation in their wake.

Despite the desperate efforts of the police to intervene, the mob’s fury was uncontainable. Gill suffered multiple skull fractures and critical blood clots in his brain. The ferocity of the attack even extended to the ambulance that was trying to rush him to safety; the mob damaged the vehicle, complicating the already dire rescue attempts. In a critical condition, Gill was eventually transferred to a hospital in Rawalpindi, where he underwent two head surgeries. Tragically, he succumbed to his injuries on June 3.

“Christians in Sargodha were on tenterhooks after the TLP announced that they would take out a protest rally in Sargodha on Sunday,” a Christian resident shared, choosing anonymity due to security concerns. “Though police had been deployed outside churches and in neighborhoods for security, many people left for safer places fearing that the protesters could target their homes. This is the level of fear that the TLP has instilled in the Christian community, particularly after the attacks in Jaranwala and Mujahid Colony.”

The Christian community in Sargodha now lives under a shadow of terror, their lives shattered by the ruthless violence and the ever-present threat of further attacks. The tragic death of Nazeer Masih Gill stands as a stark and sorrowful reminder of the perilous existence faced by religious minorities in Pakistan, where the flames of extremism continue to blaze unchecked, leaving devastation in their path.

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