FAISALABAD: A resident of the ill-fated Christian Colony in Jaranwala became a prime example of coexistence amidst the riots that erupted following blasphemy allegations against the minority community in the tehsil.
Malik Khalil Irfan put his life on the line to protect his neighbour and sworn sister, Josephine, when their neighbourhood was being attacked by rioters and arsonists on August 16.
More than 90 Christian homes and 21 churches were vandalised when hundreds rioted through a Christian neighbourhood in Faisalabad’s Jaranwala tehsil on Wednesday.
To save his neighbour and her children, the man offered them shelter in his home. He then went on to protect their house.
“When we were attacked, it was my Muslim brothers and sisters who helped us along with those from our community,” Josephine said.
She added that when the attack was launched, Khalil called her and told her to come to his house with her children.
After sheltering Josephine, Khalil stood outside her house with a prayer mat and saved it from being set ablaze by praying there.
“I stood outside her house and hung the prayer mat.”
After peace began returning in the neighbourhood, Josephine also went back to her home. She is grateful to Khalil for saving her home and life.
Meanwhile, Punjab Inspector General Usman Anwar said that more than 160 out of 170 suspects have been arrested linked to the vandalism that followed, thanks to the use of facial recognition technology, mobile phone geo-fencing, and data gathered from social media and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) records.
More arrests are expected soon, Anwar added.
The police chief said that a cleric was among the dozen people who are being investigated over the use of mosque loudspeakers to give a protest call against the alleged blasphemy.
Reports that a copy of the Quran had been desecrated were broadcast from mosques, with one cleric telling his followers it was “better to die if you don’t care about Islam”.