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PAKISTAN 9/2/2016 (Voice of the Persecuted): Four suicide bombers were killed when they attacked a Christian neighborhood “Christian colony” in the city of Peshawar around 6am on Friday morning. According to Fides Agency, it began when Samuel Masih, a Christian and security guard at the church, was killed by the terrorists. They also reported two other Christians, employed as civilian security officers, were injured. Unconfirmed reports claim the group intended to attack military and school targets, but chose to attack the Christian Colony instead.
Contacted by Fides, Fr. Riaz, a Catholic priest and pastor for five years in Peshawar, recounts those moments:
“The four militants were stationed outside the Colony. They waited for the gate to open and allowed Samuel to get out, who had to go to work. Then they started shooting, killing Samuel and entered the colony. In the crossfire, our two civilian security guards were injured. But they gave the alarm and called for reinforcements. soldiers arrived who continued the gunfight with the terrorists. Two of them were killed by the army. Two others blew themselves up, since all four had suicide vests, destroying a house where they had taken shelter. But there were no other victims”.
“I went to the spot where the attack took place, people are afraid, we are mourning Samuel’s death. About thirty Christian families live in the colony, and among these ten are Catholic. They are simple people, most of them work as cleaners in public offices. They are people with a strong faith: we will overcome this”.
“The Taliban indiscriminately hit civilian and military targets, schools and families: they want to destroy peace and have visibility, threatening institutions. We will remain united in protecting social and religious peace. As Christians, we will do our part, praying and working peacefully, building peace in our daily lives every day”concludes Fr. Riaz.
The attack comes three weeks short of the third anniversary, September 22, of an attack by twin suicide bombers on the Christian community at the All Saints Church in Peshawar. 600 parishioners were having lunch on the front lawn of the church when two explosions occurred, leaving the church scattered with body parts. TTP Jundullah, linked to the Taliban, said it had carried out the attack on the Christian congregation, saying, “We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistani land.” More than 100 people were killed and over 150 injured. Outside the church, one of the suicide bombers was stopped by the police and detonated his explosives there. The other detonated the bomb inside the church.
Earlier in March 2013 an entire Christian community in Lahore was burned to the ground after one of the residents was accused of blasphemy.
On March 15 2015, two blasts took place at 2 churches during Sunday service in Youhanabad, a town of Lahore, Pakistan. At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks. The bombers tried to enter the churches but were stopped by the guards at the gate and blew themselves up.
This year on Easter Sunday, suicide bombers attacked a park in Lahore as Christian families gathered after church services. At least 74 died, including 29 children: the group said it had “targeted Christians celebrating Easter”.
The above accounts are only a portion of attacks against Pakistani Christians.
Please pray for the injured and the grieving family of Samuel Masih. Please remember Pakistani Christians in your prayers and pray changes will come for their security and protection. Pray for peace and their persecutors.
On 22 September 2013, a twin suicide bomb attack took place at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 127 people were killed and over 250 injured. It was the deadliest attack on the Christian minority in the history of Pakistan.
(Voice of the Persecuted)Deeply saddened, we are still learning the magnitude of the slaughter of innocents in Pakistan, yesterday. A Taliban revenge attack for a military offensive against their safe havens. Reports claim that 148 have been killed and over 130 were children. And many were wounded. Since early yesterday morning, we have sat crying and praying for the survivors and victims of the Peshawar Army school attack. This is also the same city where a Taliban suicide bombing killed nearly 100 people after a church service at the All Saints Church in September 2013.
In agreement with this statement by Franklin Graham. “What kind of evil perpetrates this kind of crime?”
He also said,
“We pray that God will comfort the families and that they would know the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. We long for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, when he will gather those who follow Him. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV)“
We have spoken with our contacts in Pakistan and one Christian forced to flee the nation due to extreme persecution. They describe an emotional roller coaster upon hearing the news. Grief, anger, revenge, shock and disbelief felt all at once. They are asking the same question over and over, “Why?”
The attack has brought international outcry from France, Britain, and the US.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Sharif visited Peshawar and said,
“My children have been targeted in the tragedy. He said the loss of innocent children is the loss of the nation.”
He also directed his Ministers to coordinate rescue operations and instructed them to secure the safety of the children at all costs.
Muhammad Sarwar Governor of Punjab said,
“I strongly condemn the attack on school children in Peshawar and offer my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. It is heart-rendering to see innocent lives being so brutally targeted. The barbarians will surely be brought to justice for such a callous act. This remorseful incident is a national tragedy and those who concocted this heinous plan are the murderers of humanity.”
And Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa told reporters, “This is not a human act.” “This is a national tragedy.”
We asked for a translation of a video where children were interviewed after the attack. They told us a boy was saying, “First they came inside, they went up to the roof of the school and started firing over there.” They explained this was for show that they (the militants) had conquered the place, in a gesture to say ‘this is now ours’.
One child recalled, “Then the teacher said to lay down on the floor and lock the doors.” They broke in while an army nurse or doctor was training for first aid class, they broke the doors then starting firing on all the children, killing them.” While he was giving statements, he was visibly confused, scared and still living the trauma.
Another gave a testimony while hiding under a desk that all he saw were “big black boots bringing death”.
130+ mothers will not be able to sleep for many nights. It’s hard to imagine their suffering, such a senseless tragedy. An American Pakistani said, “My mother started crying when she heard the news.” Regardless of religion, many mothers in Pakistan and around the globe are crying with those who are grieving today.
A Christian from Pakistan shared the following poem with us. It was written by another Pakistani after the attack. The word for ‘Mother’ in this poem is ‘Ammi’.
What was my fault?
I never hurt you, Never teased you
I dont even know who are you..
I knew villians are there,
But Ammi said they are never real
If they are, then where is the superman?
I also had a big gun
but that was plastic one…
I left it with my teddy,
Over the pillow of my Daddy
My teddy would miss me every night
And so will my batman and spiderman fight
Now, Please tell my Ammi to visit my permanent bed
Tell Ammi to sing me lullaby as she said
I had heard Teachers are never wrong or deceit
She told animal walks on Four but I saw animals walking on
By Ashish Chauhan
Voice of the Persecuted strong condemns this violent attack. We stand with the victims and pray for their wounds physically and mentally. We pray not only for Pakistani Christians, but all people of Pakistan. Praying for peace and equality for all. God bless you, Pakistan.
Pray with us for Pakistan:
Father we ask for your comfort, your light, & your peace. Peace that passes all understanding. We lean on you in this time of darkness. Father we know these precious soul’s are in your arms. We ask that you bring comfort and peace to the parents and the families. We ask for strength and courage. Grant your mercy, Father. Show Your love and light to the people of Pakistan. Hold this nation in your loving arms as they grieve for their children. Father, this touches us all, our hearts are heavy, we can’t understand the suffering of such innocence. But we will put our faith and our trust in you. Hold them, Father and grant healing. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
PESHAWAR: Victims of All Saints Church twin blasts victims receive checks after a year.
K-P Governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi distributed the relief cheques yesterday donated by the government of Sindh among families of the deceased and those who were injured in the twin blasts at the All Saints Church in Peshawar. The ceremony was held at the Governor House.
On September 22, 2013, two militants targeted the church located in Kohati on a Sunday morning a just after the Mass had concluded and parishioners were pouring out. The blasts claimed hundreds of lives countless people injured.
- Related At least 56 Christians dead in Pakistan church suicide bombing WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES
Soon after the incident, an outpouring of condemnations from the Christian community nationwide and across the globe was witnessed, more than that Muslims also joined hands with grieved Christians to denounce this atrocity.
Shortly on 6th of October, in excess of 300 Muslim Pakistanis assembled around St. Anthony’s Church in Lahore at the same time as prayer service was being held inside the Church. The calm protestors were carrying signs that read, “One Nation, One Blood”, “Many faiths, one God” and “No more dialogue, only action!” These people drew together expressing solidarity with the victims of the attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar claiming more than 200 lives.
Mufti Mohammad Farooq delivered a sermon; sermonizing reverence for other religions while standing in the courtyard of St. Anthony’s Church. He was later joined by Father Nasir Gulfam. The two leaders thus stood holding hands as a symbol of Christian-Muslim brotherhood forming human chain made up of Pakistani Muslims and Christians demonstrating shared aims.
Chipping in, the human chain was Mohammad Jibran Nasir, the organizer of Pakistan for All. Even so, Nasir also blogged on The Express Tribune trying to convince Pakistanis; to ask their Imams to advocate tolerance, minority rights and to condemn the attacks on the Peshawar Church.
Nasir recorded his own experience of speaking with his local Imam, “who tentatively agreed to speak out for minority rights over a couple weeks.” He writes, “It is a tough fight but it is a good fight and it has to be fought the long and hard way.”
Muhammad Jibran Nasir addressed the crowds during the Lahore gathering saying, “The terrorists showed us what they do on Sundays. Here we are showing them what we do on Sundays. We unite.”
The human chain at St. Anthony’s Church picked up momentum after the Church service ended. The service, attended by Christians and Muslims, was especially held for the victims of the September 22 attacks.
British politicians and faith leaders gathered at the House of Lords Tuesday to discuss the persecution of Christians abroad and the United Kingdom’s “non-functional” path to asylum.
The recently formed All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom convened a meeting of Muslim and Christian representatives to address the hardships many Christians face, especially across Africa and the broader Middle East. Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the U.K. spoke out against Islamist theocracy in Egypt and the marginalization of Copts. ”Theocracy and democracy can’t work together,” he said. “We must have very pious, religious people, who respect everyone out of their piety, but not people who want to force their religion on others.”
Rubab Mehdi Rizvi, a Muslim barrister and panelist, said the recent attack on a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, “was not just an attack on a church or on Christians alone, but an attack on the heart and soul of Islam itself. Muslims stand together in solidarity with Christians to condemn these barbaric attacks against humanity.” After hearing these country-specific cases of Christian persecution, Lord Avebury, a Buddhist politician and vice-chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, concluded:
“We need to join up the dots. We need not think about persecution in an individual country and say that it is a phenomenon peculiar to that country, because it’s happening all over the world for the same reasons. We’ve failed collectively to examine extremist ideologies and to see if we can find means by which to tackle them in their countries of origin.”
Avebruy argued that religious asylum seekers who wish to settle in Britain must prove they have been individually persecuted rather than merely discriminated against as members of religious group. “If we didn’t have that, then floods of people would enter our country without reason,” he said, adding that “although the immigration service is in chaos at the moment—everybody knows it’s non-functional—the rules by which it operates are good.” Avebury also leveled heavy criticism against the United Nations and its efforts to address religious persecution:
“The mechanisms in the U.N. are grossly defective. The U.N. special rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief and extrajudicial executions are not doing their jobs properly. They don’t answer their telephones. They don’t react to communications about the persecutions, massacres and assassinations of people of the ‘wrong’ religion. I believe that our government has a duty to shake that system up.”
Avebury and the panel’s moderator the Rev Shannon Ledbetter both agreed that the U.N.’s “failure” is due more to the fact that rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt, who I interviewed last month, works pro bono and part-time in the religious freedom post. They argued that the U.N. should provide greater support for work on religious freedom.
One speaker brought the conversation of Christian persecution closer to home, and not just in regards to asylum. Professor Iain Benson said,
“We live in a time of significant secularism. The persecution of Christians isn’t just a phenomenon in Arab or Muslim countries, it’s a phenomenon in western societies under the rule of law.”
His remarks echoed some of the sentiments shared at a conference on religious freedom I attended in Brussels last week.
Benson worked on drafting the South African Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms, which attracted many signatures but has yet to be signed into law. Several members of the audience and panelists voiced their desire for a similar charter in the U.K. Have a skim of the document.
By Brian Pellot, Director of global strategy and religious freedom editor at RNS.
Source: Religion News Service
Sheraz Khan, a Pakistan-born journalist, fears that the religious and ethnic minorities of Pakistan including the Christians of the country will face more persecution after the 2014 drawdown of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and US forces from Afghanistan in 2014.
“The exit scenario of NATO and US forces could mean that the Taliban, who were toppled by the US-led invasion in 2001, will attempt to again impose themselves on the people of Afghanistan,” said Khan in an exclusive ANS interview on Wednesday October 16, 2013.
He said that regardless of a Taliban success, there would be a massive spillover effect on Pakistan, as “they would then attempt to infiltrate deeper into the country.”
He also pointed to the fact that Pakistan last month released former Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Mr. Khan, who has written extensively on Christian persecution for the ASSIST News Service (ANS) during his time as its special correspondent in Pakistan, is a staunch advocate of empowerment of minorities in Pakistan and around the world told ANS that he was “profoundly concerned” over the “widespread and on-going misuse of Pakistan blasphemy laws.”
Born in Pakistan, before moving to the United Kingdom in 2008, Khan said that a recent upsurge in attacks orchestrated by Taliban in Pakistan had made already marginalized minorities communities more prone to abuse.
He called upon clerics of all persuasions to step up their efforts to promote a culture of peace, understanding and co-existence.
Mr Khan also expressed his concern over escalating disenchantment and disaffection of minorities’ communities regarding the diminishing recognition of their place in the social, cultural and political landscape of Pakistan.
“Minorities’ sacrifices in nation-building should be acknowledged and Pakistani government should make sure that members of minority communities are included in all prestigious public and private and policy-making institutions,” he added.
Commenting on the recent Peshawar tragedy, the deadliest ever attack on the Christians of Pakistan that claimed the lives of at least 85 of the Christian worshippers at the All Saints Church on Sunday, September 22, 2013, Mr Khan said the incident suggested that “the Taliban launched the attack to pressure Pakistan incumbent government to give into their demands.”
Khan said he was touched by an act of forgiveness by the Rev. Aftab Gohar, a Grangemouth minister of the Church of Scotland’s who reportedly pardoned people behind the All Saints Church suicide attack. Rev Gohar lost his mother, his nephew and a niece in the suicide attack, and yet instead of condemning them, prayed to God to give the killers wisdom.
Editor’s note: Mr. Khan is considering writing at least a 50,000 word long report on the situation of Pakistani Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities. The project will take Mr Khan around the United Kingdom and to several European counties to interview leading minority right experts, academics, the heads of Christian/minority right organisations, MSPs, MP and MEPs. He has requested ANS readers to help him fund this project. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries ANS
Pakistan Minority Alliance Sindh Youth President Condemns Church Attack, Calls for Immediate Government Action
Pakistan Minority Alliance sindh youth president, Stanley Ghouri tells VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED that he highly condemned the act of barbarism at the All Saints church in Peshawar, Pakistan. Mr. Stanley Ghouri. has given a clear message to the Federal Govt. and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Govt. that such incidents are not acceptable in the future. He urged the Govt. to make proper security plans for all Churches, Temples and Mosques including the Missionary Institutes.
He demanded the Govt. apprehend all those who are responsible for the brutal killing of innocent people and deal them with iron fist. He demanded also an urgent release of those who have had been detained by police during the protests. He urged the Govt. to move all patients in critical and serious condition to Islamabad to save their lives. He suggested that the Govt. include Minorities representation in All Pakistan Conference to review the steps of dialogue with the Taliban.
Please lift up to God all victims of this attack and the country of Pakistan and all Pakistani Christians enduring constant persecution! Father give the them strength to endure. May they know they are not forgotten and to be bold in the Gospel and not fear! In the name Jesus, we pray.