05/11/2019, 09.00
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Karachi, Protestant pastor faces death threats

by Shafique Khokhar

The Rev.  Naveed Azam leads the Assembly of God Church in the Christian colony of Ghaziabad.  The criminals left no signature or other signs of recognition.  For Catholics, it is a "clear sign that religious minorities are targeted because they are vulnerable".


 Karachi (AsiaNews) - "Pay 5 million rupees or pay with 50 graves": This is the death threat delivered to a pastor of the Christian colony of Ghaziabad, district of Orangi Town, near Karachi.  In the letter the criminals warn the reverend not to press charges or report the incident to the police.  However, the recipient of the intimidating act decided to report the fact after consulting with the older pastors.

The news of the death threat has become viral on social media.  The complaint was filed against unknown persons.  The letter, addressed to the Rev.  Naveed Azam, was delivered on May 1st at the Assembly of God Church.  Here every morning at 6 am, the pastor, who lives in the town of Baldia (about 10 km away), conducts the prayer.  After the usual service, he noticed an envelope deposited near the shoe rack, he opened it and was shocked  by what it contained.

The letter (photo 3) contains the threat of death, in addition to the 10-day deadline to handover the money.  Shocked and worried, he decided not to give in to intimidation.  Rev.  Naveed says that "the police have arranged to put two officers on guard during the prayers, in addition to a van that patrols during the day.  For the night instead, it is the young people of the church who are keeping watch and protecting the place of worship and the faithful who live all around ”.  Then he adds: "People have been really brave, they haven't taken the slightest step backwards.  On the contrary, they are united in prayer for the protection of the church and also for those who have sent threats and those who are involved in terrorist activities ".

According to Kashif Javes, a member of the Catholic archdiocese of Karachi, "even if we do not know who is behind the threatening letter, the whole story is a sign that religious minorities are targeted because they are vulnerable and scared.  The threat to a minority church is a clear message that the culprits know that minorities are an easy target of persecution, and pay the sums required out of fear ".

Father Anthony, pastor of the Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd, says: "All this goes against religious freedom.  We ask the provincial and federal governments to take note of these inhumane activities and secure minorities ".

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