02/08/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Christians of Shanti Nagar remember the massacre of 1997

Hundreds of faithful of all denominations gathered to commemorate the victims of the clashes, born of false accusations of blasphemy. The government has never granted compensation to victims.

Shanti Nagar (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of Christians gathered in the church of the Salvation Army to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the bloody attack perpetrated against the community by Islamic fundamentalists. The small village of Punjab was decimated by the fundamentalists, who accused Christians of being "spies of the West”.

The interfaith prayer service was attended by the pastors of the Salvation Army along with those of the Assembly of God and the Church of Yahaw Nasi, local Protestant denominations. Pastor Hisqeel Sarosh, master of the house, opened the celebration by thanking the Lord for “having saved the lives of those present from violence against the innocent. "

On 6 February 1997, recalls one of those present, "thousands of Muslim fundamentalists attacked the village saying that we were blasphemers. They carried placards saying 'Kill the Christians, blasphemers against the Koran and the Prophet' and attacked us indiscriminately. "

During the clashes 785 houses and 4 churches were destroyed. Over 2,500 Christians were also forced to flee. The survivors asked the children attending the celebration of two days ago, "not to forget the past and what happened in the village."

Immediately after the attacks, the locals had launched a hunger strike to demand the government withdraw the law on blasphemy, which, since its introduction, it is used incorrectly to target minorities particularly Christians and Ahmadis. Moreover, the Christians of Shanti Nagar have long been calling for compensation for the events of 1997. But Islamabad has never granted it.

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