(AsiaNews) - A Protestant clergyman cited passages from the Qur'an as he
delivered his sermon during a recent service in a Punjab village. This angered the
local Muslim leader who wants the pastor to stand trial for blasphemy. Local Christians
now fear that they too might experience the wrath of the Muslim community.
the village in Data Zedka (Punjab), tensions are still high. Rev Irfan Gill, a
Protestant clergyman from Lahore, has received death threats and a complaint by
the head of the local mosque, Maulana Hafeez Tariq, has been filed against him.
The latter even tried to attack him with the assistance of a group of local
local Christian community had invited Rev Gill to a prayer meeting. During his
sermon, the clergyman quoted passages from the Qur'an to explain the errors and
misunderstandings that underline today's interreligious violence. Outraged by
such references, the imam called on the pastor to retract his statement and make
a public apology.
Christians were able to get the reverend away, saving him from a dangerous
situation. However, a blasphemy accusation still hangs over his head. Attempts by
Christian elders and human rights activists to mediate failed. Maulana Hafeez
Tariq wants a public apology.
Fr Munir John, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sialkot, the pastor is
partly to blame. Many Protestant preachers are carried away when they speak and
Fr Munir, Rev Gill "should come back and apologise" rather "than put the lives
of innocent people in danger."
is not the first time that a Protestant clergyman endangers the innocent," he explained.
"Their small denominations and street churches can become easy targets."