Nordic cross desecrated during protests in Pakistan


Some Muslims in Pakistan have publicly insulted the cross on the Norwegian flag in their continued retaliation against the recent desecration of the Quran by far-right activists in Europe.

Members of Pakistan’s far-right Islamic extremist political party Tehreek-e-Labbiak (TLP) organized the protest on a public road in Faisalabad city in eastern Punjab province on Feb. 13.

In a video circulating on social media, a man is seen slamming his shoes on the Norwegian flag lying on a street while another rides his motorcycle on it.

The protestors can be heard chanting “Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (We are present O’ messenger of Allah).”

Christians have condemned the burning of copies of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands but also expressed concern over the provocative methods adopted by Islamist mobs in Pakistan.

TLP activists have been mobilizing mobs against the Quran burning in January by Rasmus Paludan, a dual Danish-Swedish national with a reputation for being an anti-Islam provocateur, in front of Turkish embassies in Sweden and Denmark.

Far-right Dutch leader Edwin Wagensveld of Netherlands also had torn pages of the Quran near the Dutch parliament last month.

Asif Munawar, a Catholic human rights activist and member of the Human Rights Committee in Jhang District near Faisalabad, condemned the desecration incidents in Europe and expressed solidarity with Muslims in Pakistan.

He also urged civil society to avoid blaming Pakistani Christians.

“The deliberate provocative actions will only flame religious hatred. We reject insult of any religion and expect our Muslim brothers to raise their voice against the foreign agenda,” he told UCA News.  

Father Inayat Barnard, the chaplain of Caritas Pakistan, said the desecration of the cross in retaliation to what happened on foreign shores is condemnable.

“Condemnation is different from [indulging in] violence. We pray that our protests may be civilized,” he said.

The violent ways adopted by some sections of the protesters were a sign of their desperation to be in the limelight, he added.

Interfaith groups in Pakistan have criticized Quran burning as an unjustifiable act and said such religiously motivated acts have deeply hurt Muslim sentiments in Pakistan and all over the world.

On Feb. 4, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore held a press conference with Muslim clerics at the Bishop’s House to condemn the latest incidents in Europe.

But the diocesan commission for interreligious dialogue refused to comment on the recent protest when UCA News contacted.   

Insult to Islam and its holy book is a sensitive issue in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

A mob reportedly stormed a police station in Nankana Sahib, a city in eastern Pakistan, on Feb. 11 and lynched a Muslim man for allegedly desecrating pages of the Quran.

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