In Mardan (North Western part of Pakistan), a mob of at least 7000 Muslims set a church on fire as a part of country-wide protests against the anti-Islam film (“Innocence of Muslims”). The anti-USA protests are believed to have the tacit support of Pakistan Army which wants to give a tough message to the USA to stay away from any action against the Haqqani Network (of Taliban) in North Waziristan.
According to reports, on Friday, 21 Sep 2012, thousands of Muslims broke into the Lutheran church compound, burnt down the church, and destroyed the homes of two priests and the school headteacher. The adjacent Mission High School was looted with newly installed computers being stolen and the building was set alight. A car and 9 bikes in the church premises were also burnt by the violent mob.
Nearly 500 students study at the primary and secondary school of the Lutheran church. But nobody was there on that day because Pakistan government had declared a holiday – probably to enable more protesters to join the violent protests.
The mob that attacked the church in Mardan comprised Muslim fanatics of the following groups: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (currently operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat), Haqqani Taliban (of Afghan and Pakistani origin), Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI) etc. However, Takfiri Deobandi militants of SSP/ASWJ and Haqqani Taliban were most prominent in attacking and burning the church.
The church is situated in a sensitive military cantonment areas in Mardan, and the access to the very large violent crowd could not be granted unless the military wanted to give a tough message to the U.S. – warning the U.S./NATO to stay away from unilateral operations against Haqqani Network – by manufacturing and broadcasting well organized and well coordinated anti-U.S. demonstrations in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar etc.
It is ironic that the church that was blown up in Mardan was where IDPs (internally displaced people due to anti-Taliban operations) from Swat and Mardan were welcomed by the local Christian community with open arms.
According to daily Dawn, armed with clubs and sticks, the angry protesters torched the building of the Sarhadi Lutheran Church and ransacked the adjacent buildings. Awami National Party MNA Himayatullah Mayar said security agencies (police, army) were responsible for the loss. He said no proper security arrangements had been made to prevent the protesters from damaging the property. (Source)
According to Pakistan Christian Post, more than 7000 Muslims entered into the Church compound. They were carrying petrol. Right after entering the church premises they started beating a Christian. Afterwards they burnt St. Paul’s Lutheran church, St. Paul’s school building, the house of Principal of St. Paul High School and houses of Pastors in the same compound. The incident has cast further fear in the Christian community in Pakistan. They have requested the worldwide Christian community to keep the Christians of Mardan and Peshawar in their prayers. (Source)
The incident is particularly shameful because groups of Christians in the previous week made common cause with Muslims in various cities of Pakistan demonstrating against the anti-Islam video. For instance, Dawn, the major national English daily, reported yesterday:
…in Balochistan around 100 Christians denounced the film in their own protest in the border town of Chaman, where trucks supplying NATO troops cross into Afghanistan. They carried placards and banners that read: “We are with Muslims against blasphemous film” and chanted “Down with America.”
Similar anti-Islam movie demonstrations by Christian community were reported in Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad and others parts of Pakistan. There have been a number of other instances of Christians marching with Muslims in various places.
Here are some pictures of Pakistani Christians protesting against the movie outside the Hyderabad Press Club (in a vain hope that their homes and churches don’t get torched by fanatic Muslim); a day later a church was burnt in Mardan. (Source)
Commenting skeptically on protests generally in daily The News International, Zafar Hilaly, a former Pakistani Ambassador, nevertheless noted:
It was reassuring to see a group of local Christians standing beside some very Islamic-looking protestors outside the Karachi Press Club. Whoever planned that demonstration deserves credit for his political savvy and for putting on a much-needed display of unity between Pakistani Christians and Muslims.
This expression of solidarity was especially sacrificial on the part of Christians in light of their suffering due to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which are routinely used to harass religious minorities. (Source)
According to Anglican Communion News Service:
The Bishop of Peshawar Humphrey Peters has appealed for support from the Anglican Communion: “The damage has been very severe, and we will need to rebuild. We are asking for people around the world to keep us in your prayers.”
The moderator of the Church of Pakistan, the Most Rev. Samuel Robert Azariah, condemned the attack: “This news is very damaging to relations between the communities in Pakistan and around the world. “The government and faith leaders in Pakistan have a role to play in educating people that they have the right to protest, but to damage property and terrify people in this way is completely wrong. The government and faith leaders should provide the lead in preventing attacks.”
The Diocese of Peshawar, where the attack took place, provides education and health services to the local community – Muslim and Christian alike – and provided substantial support to victims of floods and a major earthquake in recent years, regardless of their religious affiliation.
It may be recalled that Pakistan Army sponsored Takfiri Jihadi militants have in the past attacked Christian community in Mardan and other parts of the country. For example, only a year ago, in September 2010, the following attack was reported:
St Paul’s Church in Mardan was destroyed in a bomb blast. On the night of Sept 12, 2010, at approximately 12:00 midnight a remote-controlled explosive device placed against the wall of the break away congregation of the Diocese of Peshawar detonated, causing one wall of the church to collapse. Two policemen were reported injured in the blast, which sparked panic among revelers in the streets celebrating the second day of the Muslim Eid festival. Had the bomb exploded during daylight hours, it would have taken a higher toll, police said, as the colonial era church is located next to a school, an open air market and a mosque. No group has so far claimed responsibility, while church sources tell CEN it is unclear whether the media controversy surrounding a proposed Koran burning by a Florida Pentecostal church had any connection to the blast. Bishop Peter Majeed, rector of St Paul’s, reports that he and his family were not injured.
The recent act of the burning of the Lutheran Church with holy bibles inside it is itself a violate of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law. The Muslim mob set on fire the Church and desecrated Holy Bibles and articles used in Holy ceremony and brought them in compound of Church and set them on fire. Islamic books with Quranic verses were also among the materials burnt by the so called aashiqaan-e-rasool (lover of the Prophet). If this is not blasphemy, what else is!
Can leaders of Sipah-e-Sahaba, Haqqani Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami etc explain what is the connection between Pakistani Christians and America? Why each time America or any other Western country does some thing, Pakistani Christians are “punished”?
Those who are silent on continuing attacks on Pakistani Christian community or are trying to hide or justify such atrocities are no better than the violent mobs attacking and killing Christians.
ملاں کے دانت کھانے کے اور ، دکھانے کے اور
آج کراچی میں چرچ جلایا گیا۔ اگر یہ حق بجانب ہے تو بابری مسجد پہ آنسو کیوں بہاتے ہو؟
آج انجیل بھی جلای گیی ۔ اگر یہ حق بجانب ہے تو رمشا مسیح کا قصور کیا ہے ؟
کیا تم عیسیٰ کو نبی نہیں مانتے ؟ اگر نہیں مانتے تو مسلم نہیں ۔ اور اگر مانتے ہو تو تم نے قران اور مسجد کو جلانے جیسے عمل کیے ہیں۔ کیا اس پر تم کو چوکوں پہ پھانسیاں نہیں ملنی چاہییں۔
کیوں تمھارے باڈی گارڈرز تم کو سلمان تاثیر کی طرح گولیوں سے نہیں بھونتے ؟
کیوں وہ صحافی اور وکلاء اب خاموش ہیں جو قاتلوں کے گلوں میں پھولوں کے ہار ڈالتے تھے ؟
کہاں ہیں وہ حضرت عمر کی مثالیں دینے والے جج ، کہاں ہیں وہ اسمبلی کے پاک اراکین اور وہ ملا جو دوسروں کے ناموں کے ساتھ ، مسلمان یا کافر کی نیم پلیٹس لگانے کے حکم جاری کرتے ہیں ؟
(فیس بک سے ماخوز – آصف مال و دیگر )
کہاں ہیں وہ فوجی جنرل جو کہتے ہیں کہ دہشت گردی کی جنگ پاکستان کی اپنی جنگ ہے کیوں انہوں نے پاکستانی مسیحیوں اور دوسری اقلیتوں کو اپنے جہادی اثاثوں کے رحم و کرم پر چھوڑ دیا ہے ؟
کیا پاکستان کی فوج مردان کینٹ میں واقیع چرچ کو سپاہ صحابہ، حقانی طالبان اور اس قماش کے دوسرے درندوں سے محفوظ نہیں رکھ سکتی؟
کیا پاکستان کی فوج، پولیس، خفیہ اداروں کو معلوم نہیں تھا کہ تکفیری جہادی گروہ عشق رسول کے مقدس نام پر مسیحی چرچ اور اس طرح کے دیگر مقامات پر حملہ کر سکتے ہیں؟ کیا آٹھ ہزار کے جلوس کا چرچ پر حملہ کرنا، لوٹ مار کرنا، کمپیوٹرز اور کرسیوں کا چوری کرنا، املاک کو جلانا، کیا ایسا ممکن ہے حکومت اور فوج کی اجازت کے بغیر؟
کیوں پاکستان کے مسیحیوں کو امریکہ کے کسی دور پر مقام پر ہونے والے کسی بھی واقعہ کے ساتھ نتھی کیا جاتا ہے؟
کیوں ہم کو پاکستان کی فوج کے افغانستان میں تزویراتی گہرائی جیسے نظریات کی بھینٹ چڑھایا جا رہا ہے ؟
پنجاب کے شانتی نگر سے لے کر مردان کے لوتهران چرچ تک، آخر کب تک سپاہ صحابہ اور دوسرے تکفیری جہادی درندے ہمارے خون سے ہولی کھیلتے رہیں گے؟
کیا ہم پاکستان کے مساوی شہری نہیں؟
کیا ہمارا اس ملک میں عزت اور برابری سے رہنے اور اپنے عقیدے پر عمل کرنے کا حق نہیں؟
کیوں ہمارے گھروں، چرچوں اور املاک پر حملہ کرنے والے گرفتار نہیں ہوتے؟ کیوں ان کو سزا نہیں ہوتی؟ کیوں بدنام اور جانے پہچانے دہشت گرد پاک سر زمیں پر دندناتے پھر رہے ہیں اور حکومت ، عدالتیں اور فوج نے ان کو کھلی چھوٹ کیوں دے رکھی ہے؟
بنے ہیں اہل ہوس ، مدعی بھی منصف بھی
کسے وکیل کریں ، کس سے منصفی چاہیں
We condemn the burning of Lutheran Church in Mardan and express our solidarity with the Christian community. We protest against this insensitive violence against peaceful Pakistani Christians who were even protesting alongside Muslims against that hateful movie.