ISLAMABAD: A day after a Sri Lanka factory manager was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob who accused him of blasphemy, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry Saturday said “time bombs [of religious fanaticism] planted in society will continue to explode if [they are] not defused”.
Few issues are as galvanising in Pakistan as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of a perceived insult to Islam can supercharge protests.
The vigilante attack has caused nationwide outrage, with Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it a “day of shame for Pakistan”, however.
In a series of tweets, Chaudhry condemned the incident and slammed the apathy towards such deadly expressions of religious intolerance, warning it possessed the potential to lead to an “even bigger tragedy”.
“I’ve been thinking since yesterday [as to] what to say to condemn the Sialkot incident. [The gravity of the situation] has rendered the words useless.
کل سے سوچ رہا تھا کہ سیالکوٹ واقعہ پر کیا لکھوں لفظ تو بے عمل ہو گئے ہیں، ایسے واقعات صرف 48گھنٹے ہمیں تکلیف دیتے ہیں پھر سب نارمل ہو جاتا ہے اور تب تک احساس دفن رہتا ہے جب تک اگلا واقعہ نہ ہو یہ بے حسی بڑے طوفان کا پیش خیمہ ہے ہمارے سامنے ملکوں میں خون کے دریا بہ گئے
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) December 4, 2021
“Such incidents affect us only for 48 hours, after which things return to normal, and until a next incident occurs, our conscience remains buried. This apathy is an indication of a bigger storm.
Blood has been spilt in [many] countries due to the dead conscience of the nations.”
“What should I say about the #Sialkot incident other than the fact that we as a nation must stand together & dismantle such ticking time-bombs before they detonate. The sands of time are slipping from our fingers, we must act & act now,” PTV News quoted him as saying.
“What should I say about the #Sialkot incident other than the fact that we as a nation must stand together & dismantle such ticking time-bombs before they detonate. The sands of time are slipping from our fingers, we must act & act now.” – @fawadchaudhry pic.twitter.com/qOeUAqghtc
— PTV News (@PTVNewsOfficial) December 4, 2021
Also on Saturday, Khurram Shehzad, a police spokesman said, up to 120 people had been arrested, included one of the main accused.
Tahir Ashrafi, a religious scholar and special representative of the prime minister on religious harmony, confirmed the arrest and said workers had complained of the manager being “very strict”.
“Police experts are investigating this case from various angles, including that some factory workers played a religious card to take revenge on the manager,” Ashrafi said.
Shehzad said raids are continuing.