SPO’s Position Statement on Jaranwala Incident (August 2023)
We strongly condemn the recent reprehensible act of violence that occurred in Jaranwala, where members of the Christian community were targeted in a heinous manner. This incident, purportedly stemming from baseless charges of blasphemy, is not only deeply distressing but also runs counter to the principles of compassion, tolerance, and respect that are integral to our shared humanity. In an age where information spreads rapidly and emotions can be easily inflamed, it is imperative for citizens to exercise discernment and critical thinking. Recent events underscore the dangerous consequences of hastily embracing allegations of blasphemy, fake news, and hate speech without careful consideration. The abrupt and frenzied reactions stemming from widely disseminated accusations have, in certain instances, led to widespread destruction and societal unrest. Disturbingly, instances have come to light wherein torn pages of the Holy Quran were discovered, bearing the names and phone numbers of local Christian residents—an apparent attempt to unjustly link them to alleged acts of blasphemy. These incidents shed light on the presence of ulterior motives driven by self-interest, local disputes, and personal vendettas, which have the potential to manipulate public sentiment and incite immediate actions. As responsible members of our community, it is crucial to remain vigilant against manipulation, to uphold the principles of justice, and to safeguard against the propagation of falsehoods that can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.
The overwhelming majority of Pakistani Muslims exemplify their deep-seated respect for their Christian compatriots through their actions. This is evident in the significant number of Muslim children and young individuals who attend Christian-operated schools and colleges across the nation on a daily basis. This practice speaks volumes about the shared values and interfaith harmony that characterize Pakistani society. The trust placed in these institutions is a testament to the exceptional standard of non-sectarian and non-partisan education they provide. This collective endorsement not only bolsters educational pursuits but also underscores the symbiotic relationship that prevails between different religious communities, fostering an atmosphere of cooperation, mutual understanding, and coexistence.
The sanctity of every individual’s beliefs and their right to practice their faith without fear of persecution or harm is a fundamental principle that should be upheld by every society and also guaranteed by Islam. It is disheartening to witness such acts of violence that not only jeopardize lives and properties but also threaten the fabric of our society by sowing seeds of division and mistrust.
We, the SPO family unequivocally stand for peace and religious harmony, and we call upon all individuals, communities, and leaders to come together and reject violence as a means of expressing grievances or addressing differences. It is imperative that we promote open dialogue, empathy, and understanding as the foundation for resolving conflicts and fostering unity.
In light of the distressing events in Jaranwala, the SPO appeals to the Government of Pakistan to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of religious minorities across the country. The government’s responsibility to safeguard the rights and well-being of all its citizens, regardless of their faith, cannot be overstated. We also urge authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident, hold those responsible accountable for their actions, and ensure that justice is served.
Furthermore, we call upon civil society, religious leaders, and community representatives to collaborate in creating an environment where diversity is celebrated and differences are embraced as sources of strength. By working collectively, we can build a society that is resilient against forces that seek to divide us and promote a vision of unity, understanding, and mutual respect.
Let us all remember that our strength lies in our ability to coexist peacefully, embracing our differences while recognizing our shared aspirations for a just and harmonious society. Through our collective efforts, we can contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and inclusive Pakistan that upholds the values of peace, tolerance, and respect for all.