On 31 October in Lahore City (Pakistan) an angry mob vandalized and burnt a 3-campus girl school, and forced the police to register case against its Principal Mr Asim Farooqi and one of the teachers Mrs. Arfa Iftikhar on charges of blasphemy. Later on, Principal Farooqi had been denied bail by the court on the pressure of a group of hardliner clerics. Former and current students, as well as well-wishers demand his immediate release and unbiased investigation.
Asim Farooqi (77 year-old) dedicated his life for educating girls in the heart of Pakistan, Lahore City, serving the Farooqi Girls High School for last 34 years. During this time thousands of girls were provided with decent education what one can dream of in this part of the world. Everything changed in the last week of October 2012 when mistakenly, some unpleasant remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were dictated by a school teacher.
This news about the unintentional mistake made by the teacher spread and Principal Farooqi was arrested while the accused teacher is hiding. On 31 October 2012 an angry mob guided by hardliner clerics with some destroyed the school. Eyewitnesses saw that all the three buildings were vandalized and looted before burning. Then parts of the branches were set to fire. This self justice can’t be tolerated in any civilized society.
On 3 November 2012, some 200 students of the school protested in favour of Asim Farooqi and the school. On the same day the bail application of Mr. Farooqi was rejected by the court.
The incident taken place on 31st October 2012 threatened not only the life of several individuals, but also the education opportunities for thousands of girls. All of this comes on the heels of the shooting of the14-year old girl of Malala Yousafzai from Swat (North Pakistan). She was shot by unknown persons. Her only crime was that she supported girl’s education and wrote blogs on international forums. Now she is being treated for severe injuries at a hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Although, burning schools and suppressing educating girls is not very common in this part of Pakistan, but if we will not react to it this might set a trend for such incidents.
As concerned citizens, we hope the government will take the following steps immediately:
1. Release Principal Mr Asim Farooqi, and provide safety for him and his family;
2. Investigate the blasphemy case. But if the offense if unintentional, clear the name of all those involved. In the meantime provide safety for the accused teacher;
3. Restore the school building at Government’s expense.
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