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  • » 01/13/2016, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Baath: for local pastor, church fire not due to religious hatred

    Kamran Chaudhry

    Overnight on 6 January, a fire partially destroyed the Christian place of worship. Some media have blamed Christian-Muslim tensions for the incident. For local clergyman, this is “a conspiracy to stoke tensions in the area”. Some “people started reporting on it without getting the facts straight”.

    Lahore (AsiaNews) – The fire that partially destroyed the Apostolic church on 6 January in Baath, some 40 kilometres north of Lahore, was not set following a row between Christians and Muslims over its loudspeakers during Muslim prayers, this according to the church’s pastor, Rev Yaqoob Saroya. Spreading such news is “a conspiracy to stoke tensions in the area”.

    Christian and Muslim community elders in the Punjabi village back the clergyman’s account. For them, media are spreading false news. In fact, some reports claimed that before the incident local Muslims had asked Christians to turn off the church’s loudspeakers to avoid disturbing their prayers. The church pastor allegedly said no and the fire was thus a retaliation by Islamic extremists.

    "We found foot and hand prints on the Church wall", said Rev Yaqoob Saroya, "suggesting someone climbed in but nobody reached out to us regarding the use of loudspeakers; there was no conflict. In fact, a neighbouring Muslim family helped in extinguishing the fire. Someone uploaded a video of Church building on fire on Facebook and people started reporting on it without getting the facts straight".

    Abdul Hameed, the local Muslim nambardar (landowner exercising governmental powers) said that local Muslims are looking for the culprit who broke into the church.

    "We feel grief and stand together with Christians because all religious places of worship are the same. The devil (i.e. the arsonist) does not deserve forgiveness. We cannot live without the support of Christians,” he said. “They are our backbone," he added.

    Rev Saroya reiterated that Christians are free to worship. "Five police officers are stationed at the church during the service,” he explained.

    Rumours about the blaze are “a conspiracy to stoke tensions in the area. We live like brothers. A Christian NGO said we should file a complaint against someone with police; another told us that we should not have repainted the church so soon (see video). This does not help minorities or the country.”

    Police said the fire was caused by an electrical problem. The flames destroyed part of the building, chairs, carpets, curtains and the electrical system.

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    See also

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    11/10/2007 PAKISTAN
    Lahore: extremists attack church, beat children
    Armed with guns and steel rods, Islamic extremists attack the New Apostolic Church in Hadyara. A final attack is announced for the end of Ramadan, nearby mosque loudspeakers warn.

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    City’s 27 km Orange Line Metro Train project threatens 27 heritage sites, 11 of which are protected under federal law and six under provincial law. Four churches dating back to the mid-19th century would be affected, including the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection. For activist, “we [. . .] will not sit back and let anyone destroy this 2000-year-old city”.



    28/05/2010 PAKISTAN
    Armed attack on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore
    The terrorists entered during Friday prayers, where 1500 people had gathered, and continue to shoot and fight the police. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack. The Ahmadis are considered heretics and subject to violence in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.



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