05/28/2016, 17.31
PAKISTAN
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Faisalabad: hundreds of Christians protest police brutality against their pastor

by Shafique Khokhar

For two days, Christians have protested demanding justice from the authorities, but to no avail. On 19 May, police agents raided the church where Kamal Chugtai was celebrating Mass. They beat the pastor and intimidated the faithful. They want “to silence us,” he said, “but we shall not be silenced; we shall continue to raise our voice on behalf of minorities.”

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Christians continue to protest against police brutality in Faisalabad, following an incident in which police burst into a church in the city’s Christian Town area, interrupted an ongoing religious service, and beat up the pastor.

In the wake of the act of aggression, local residents took to the streets on Wednesday and Thursday. Speaking to AsiaNews about the affair, Rev Kamal Chugtai, the Protestant clergyman involved in the case, said, “We approached high officials but no one helped us.”

On 19 May, Rev Chugtai was in his church with hundreds of his parishioners when Gulberg Station House officer Shahid Waheed stormed the building with several agents, breaking up the service. After mistreating some of the women present, they forced people out.

When the clergyman approached the police officers to ask them to stop harassing his congregation, Officer Waheed struck his ear with the butt of his gun, causing bleeding. After that, the other agents began beating up the reverend. They later took him to his home, which they ransacked without a warrant, and then to their police station, where they continued thrashing him.

Local residents believe that police attacked Rev Chugtai because of his human rights activities. For many, years, he has worked on behalf of Christians who are victims of injustice. For this reason, he has received many threats from local police who now turned to action.

Naveed Walter, who chairs Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), slammed police for their brutal treatment of the clergyman. In view of what happened, he wants to see a public investigation against the attackers. He also wants the officers involved in the incident to be suspended.

In the meantime, police “filed a complaint against 35 Christians, including myself,” said Rev Chugtai. “Now the whole community lives in fear, and women do not feel safe after they were humiliated by the cops."

The lack of reaction from government officials speaks volume about their desire “to silence us,” the clergyman added, “but we shall not be silenced; we shall continue to raise our voice on behalf of minorities. I am glad my community is standing by me in the fight for justice.”

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