10/18/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Muslims apologise for attack on Lahore Church

by Qaiser Felix
The violent attack took place a week ago caused by intolerance and futile provocations. Now the Islamic community has apologised to Christians, but other acts of intolerance are feared. Out of 10 thousand inhabitants, there are 25 Christian families.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The Muslims of Gowindh village have apologized to the Christians for desecrating more than 60 years old The New Apostolic Church and hurting their religious sentiments on October 10th.  Nadeem Anthony of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) who visited the area with a fact finding team told AsiaNews.

On October 10 an angry mob of Muslims stormed The New Apostolic Church, abused and threatened Christians, in Gowindh village near Hadiyra, outskirts of Lahore cut off the loudspeaker’s wires and put manure on the walls of the Church. Some Muslim clerics allegedly made inciting announcements through their mosque loudspeakers asking Muslims to come out “as war has been broken out between Muslims and infidels.” Hundreds of Muslims then chanted anti-Christian slogans as they marched through the streets of the village.   The enraged Muslims dislodged the loudspeaker and later subjected the Christians to a “social boycott” for three days refusing to sell them anything even food for their animals. The Muslims of the area asked the Christians not to use the loudspeaker for their Morning Prayer because this was the same time when Muslims also offer their prayer. But Christians continued their prayers in the loudspeakers as Muslims also do, which enraged the Muslims as a result they attacked the one and only church of the area.

On October 12th Athar Rasool, Supervisory Police Officer (SPO) Athar Rasool organized a peaceful gathering of representative of both communities where Muslims submitted a written apology to the Christians. The villagers also signed a peace agreement under the supervision of the SPO and senior police officers including the Hadiyara Police station house officer. But the Christians say that the tensions have not been diffused and on Sunday October 14th they did not use their loudspeaker “to avoid further problems”, while the loud cries for Eid (last day of Ramadan) sailed from the mosques.

Police found that Haji Yasin and Molvi Rasheed were the two key people behind the incident, who instigated the Muslims and incited anti-Christian hate in the mosques. Police have warned them not to create further tensions. No other steps were taken, despite the degree of violence and damage.

Gowindh is a village on the India-Pakistan border and falls in the Hadiyara area of Lahore. The village has a population of around 10,000 people including 25 Christian families. There are eight mosques in the village, and only one church, that was built before partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.

 

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