Today a charged mob” set fire to about 150 poor Christian homes in Badami Bagh Lahore. see pictures here.
The order of events was pretty standard.
Wednesday: A Christian sanitary worker (yes, they clean gutters and sweep roads) argued with a Muslim Barber at a snooker game. At some point after this he accused the Christian of having blasphemed he who must not be named.
Friday: “Enraged Muslims” marched into Joseph colony looking for the blasphemer. They beat up his father (age 65, very much in the “beatable” age group) and did some property damage. Police arrested the accused that night. They also advised the local Christians to clear out since more “rage” may be on its way.
Saturday: Thanks to the timely efforts of the Punjab police, no Christians were home when the rage returned on Saturday. 178 houses were burnt, as was one church. No one was killed since no one was there.
Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif has suspended the local police officers and promised to rebuild the houses. He has also said the trial of the blasphemy accused will be held in prison and it is looking possible that the trial will be quick and he may be set free (unlike Aasia bibi, who remains in prison).
“Civil society” has reacted with outrage and the President and the PM have condemned this outrage. Most of the outrage is probably genuine. But I noticed some common misconceptions too.
1. This outrage is new and shocking and marks a “further deterioration” in how things are done in the Islamic Republic….In this case, NOT true. This event is small scale compared to the assault on Shantinagar in 1997.
There have been many other blasphemy accusations and mobs between then and now. The outrage is outrageous, but neither new nor out of proportion to “usual practice”.
2. The mobs are led by misunderstanders of Islam. Actually the mobs are led by people who know what they are doing with remarkable clarity. Blasphemy and apostasy memes (memes, not laws…no law is needed if the meme is firmly in place, since they allow for freelance action) are the twin pillars on which Islamism is built. See here for details.