Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Two believers killed, churches attacked, copies of the Bible burned: the Christian community in Pakistan is once again the victim of violence by Islamic fundamentalists, who have targeted places of worship in the country. The extremist violence was triggered by the insane act - repeatedly condemned by Christians in Pakistan and India – of the pastor Wayne Sapp, who last March 20, in Florida burned a Koran under the supervision of the evangelical preacher Terry Jones. The escalating violence has raised alarm over the fate of Asia Bibi, a symbol of the abuses committed in the name of the blasphemy law. The bishop of Islamabad / Rawalpindi defines the US pastor a "fanatic" who encourages followers to a "violent ideology", the consequences of which have an impact "on innocent Christians" across the world.
On March 25, a mob of Islamic extremists attacked a Pentecostal church in Hyderabad, killing two Christians and burning some copies of the Bible. Eyewitnesses said that the fundamentalists stormed the place of worship looking to set it on fire, but a group of believers defended the church. Security forces have fled the scene, leaving those present at the mercy of the crowd. The attackers hurled anti-Christian slogans and a feeling of anger toward the religious minority has spread. in the city The pastor of the church reports that "despite the condemnation of the burning of the Koran" the community "has come under attack because they think that we are linked to the Americans." He emphasizes that "we are Pakistanis, who were born in this land and we do not have any kind of relationship with the United States." "What fault did those two innocent people have – he ends - who were not Americans, but only Pakistani Christians?".
In a second incident, the Full Gospel Assembly Church, in the Badami Bagh area of Lahore, was attacked. Again fundamentalists burned the church, threw copies of the Bible into the street and accused the Christians of blasphemy, claiming they found pieces of the Koran, not far from the church. During the attack some security guards were injured.
Meanwhile, the weekend demonstrations were repeated against the burning of the Koran wanted by Pastor Terry Jones in different cities of Pakistan - among other Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad. The demonstrators, who burned his picture and chanted slogans and chants against the United States, called for the death of U.S. preacher. Extremists also threatened reprisals and other targeted attacks against Christians, if the U.S. government fails to take action against Pastor Jones.
The Pakistani Christian community, however, in a show of support with Muslims, condemns, and demonstrates against the burning of the Koran. Catholic priest Fr. Anwar Patras, said that Christians are first of all Pakistanis, "we were born in this land and we will be buried here, we have no connection with Pastor Terry Jones and his sick ideas." Condemning the attack, the religious priest shows sympathy for the two Christians killed "and reiterates that" the community is in danger”.
Recent violence has raised the alert level around Asia Bibi, the 45 year old Christian mother of five children, sentenced to death based on the "black law" and in prison, pending appeal. The Masih Foundation reports that "despite security measures" adopted in the cell, the woman is in danger. "She cannot eat prison food - continue the activists - but ingredients are provided to cook her own food, she prays and fasts for her own sake and for the current situation in Pakistan. The Catholic Church has asked for special prayers for her.
Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mgr. Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad / Rawalpindi, said that "Christian doctrine teaches tolerance and love," the U.S. minister is a "fanatic" promoting "a sick ideology." The prelate accused the American preacher of ignoring "the scope of his actions" and now Pakistani Christians "live with greater fear because his actions worsened our situation." "There are examples of threats to churches and Bibles burned in some areas - concluded Msgr. Anthony - now innocent Christians will face the consequences. "