Another shocking attack against Pakistani Christians has taken place, this time by a group of unidentified Muslim men who attacked the Nasri Pentecostal Church in Shah Latif Town, Karachi.
|A church member with three burned crosses|
The unprovoked violence took place at around midnight on Saturday, September 18, 2010, when a group of men cut the locks of the church and then, once inside, went on an orgy of violence.
They piled up Bibles, hymnals (including Books of the Psalms), and musical instruments and then set them on fire and fled the scene of their crime.
A case was registered against the unknown culprits at the nearby Shah Latif Town Police Station but , at the time of writing, they were still unidentified and at large.
|Burned Holy Bibles, Books of Psalms and Hymnals that were torched in the attack|
The ASSIST News Service was told about the appalling desecration at the Pentecostal church by the Rev. Khadim Bhutto, a clergyman who works with the Gospel Vision Church Ministries (GVCM) and an activist with the Gawahi Mission Trust (GMT), a Christian human rights advocacy group.
ANS has since learned that the Rev. Shehzad Peter, pastor in charge of the Nasri Pentecostal Church, has registered a case at Shah Latif Town Police Station against the unidentified Muslim culprits.
The First Information Report (#676/2010) alleges that the culprits had set ablaze nine Holy Bibles, three crosses, musical Instruments used for praise and worship services, as well as numerous holy books of Holy Psalms and Sacred Hymns. The report goes on to claim that the thugs had put a table in the middle of the church building and then piled up various items on it and set them on fire.
The Rev. Bhutto told ANS that that “erupting smoke and the light of the fire had attracted the attention of several Christian men” who were nearby and they “rushed into the church and were able to save several more items from being completely destroyed in the blaze.”
|Rev. Khadim Bhutto holds a burned cross|
Later, a delegation comprising of the Rev. Shehzad Peter, the Rev. Khadim Bhutto (and his fact-finding team) had approached Inspector Nasir Ahmed Tanoori, Station House Office (SHO) of the Shah Latif Police Station and, according to Bhutto, had “censured the desecration of the Nasri Pentecostal Church,” and they also had urged the police officer to bring the Muslim suspects “to book as soon as possible.”
The police inspector told them that he pledged to the church leaders that “very soon” the Muslim men who allegedly devised and carried out this sinister plan would be “litigated” as he believed that their actions were “repugnant” to the basic human rights of Pakistani people and was also “against the constitution of Pakistan.”
On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, a Christian rights defender group, the Human Rights Development Commission (HRDC), under the leadership of its Chairman William Sadiq, staged a protest rally against the torching of the church.
Sadiq said that he “condemned the attack by the Muslim suspects” saying that “if the reverse had occurred, and Christians had attacked a Mosque, the repercussions could have been terrible and extremely violent.”
|Shocked members gather outside the Nasri Pentecostal Church following the attack|
Commenting on the possible motive for the attack, Sadiq said that “it might have been a reaction to the Rev. Terry Jones’ threat to burn copies of the Koran (Qur’an), viewed as holy by all Muslims, on 9/11, at his church in Gainesville, Florida.
Fortunately, that was called off at the last moment, possibly sparing the lives of thousands of Christians in the Islamic World.
One media report said, “The wave of fear and anger spread among Christian in Karachi as news of attack on church was heard in Sunday services in different churches of other denominations.
“There are more than one hundred homes of Christians in Sector 19-B of Shah Latif Town, near to the famous historical Chowkandi Graveyard on the National Highway which connects Karachi with Hyderabad and the interior of Sindh Province.”