Many of you are very concerned about the situation right now in Pakistan, and in the Muslim world in general. You are right to be concerned. Let me say first that the situation in and around the Forman Christian College campus is calm. The campus has been in lock-down mode on Friday for the government’s ironically named “Day of Love for the Prophet” which has resulted in nationwide unrest, destruction and death – mainly of Muslims. I cannot imagine how such a day would honor any prophet of God, but such is politics.
Not only has the scurrilous (and atrociously produced) “film” on the life of the Prophet Muhammad stirred violent feelings around the world, but individuals from “Pastor” Terry Jones to French magazine publishers have decided to throw gasoline onto an already catastrophic blaze with inflammatory rhetoric and images. Right now in Pakistan, cinemas and banks are looted and ablaze, and the embassies and consulates of many nations are being stormed. I spoke this morning (Eastern Time) with FCC Rector James Tebbe. He said that he has been monitoring the situation carefully all day through local news channels. The gates of the college have been closed and secured, and both FCC security personnel and the Lahore Police post on campus are at full strength.
Lahore has seen two days of unrest. Many of the city’s main thoroughfares were blocked by protest mobs yesterday, resulting in a day-long traffic standstill. Today, much of the violence has been in the downtown area, specifically on Mall Road as it approaches the Anarkali Market area. However, loss of life and property in Lahore have been much less than in other cities like Peshawar, Karachi and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. So far, 19 people have died in violence around the country, leading one Pakistani newspaper commentator to tweet “We are not a nation. We are a mob.”
There is not much to do at this point besides pray for the reestablishment of peace and civility. Now that the demagogues and looters have seized the movement, no amount of saying sorry will help. However, let us hope that such insanity – whether the insanity that set this off, or the bloodlust that makes it continue – soon exhausts itself. Pray for Jim and the college. I will update you again tomorrow to let you know of any developments.
Dr. Robert A. Johnson, Jr.
Friends of Forman Christian College