Press Esc to close
Saturday 04 July 2015
News updated at 3:34 PM IST
Weather
Max: 33°C
Min : 21°C
In Bengaluru
Rain lightly

Pak mob sets church ablaze in anti-Islam film protest

Islamabad, Sep 23, 2012, (PTI)

A mob of hundreds of Muslim men attacked and burnt an 82-year-old church and an adjoining school in northwest Pakistan during a protest against an anti-Islam film, sparking concerns among the minority Christian community.

The mob broke through the gate of the St Paul's Lutheran Church inside the cantonment in Mardan city, 48 km from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital of Peshawar, on Friday while returning from a rally against the film 'Innocence Of Muslims'.

According to reports from Christians in Mardan, the mob attacked and set on fire the church, St Paul's high school, a library, a computer laboratory and houses of four clergymen, including Bishop Peter Majeed.

The mob also damaged and torched moveable property, including a car and three motorcycles.

Zeeshan Chand, the 17-year-old son of a pastor, was beaten by the mob and had to be hospitalised in Mardan.

Rev Binyameen Barkat, the treasurer of the Northern Diocese of the Church of Pakistan, said, "We were under threats of such attacks since last week and had requested the local administration to provide security to the church property, which they did. However, it was not enough to stop the aggressive armed men".

Christian leaders said those who attacked the church had brought kerosene and guns.
They stoned the church, desecrated the altar, tore copies of the Bible and prayer books and later put everything on fire.

"We immediately called the fire brigades, but the mob stoned and did not allow the fire fighters to enter the church compound," Barkat said.

The incident has caused considerable concern in the minority Christian community in Pakistan's restive northwest.

Bishop Majeed said the church was targeted twice in 2010 during protests though the damage at that time was not extensive.

President Asif Ali Zardari today condemned the burning of the church, saying the ransacking of public and private property, particularly places of worship of other religions, was an "un-Islamic and highly condemnable act".

Zardari noted that the "highly provocative anti-Islam film" had been condemned across the world by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

However, the ransacking and vandalising of places of worship in retaliation for the film "amounted to playing into the hands" of those who produced the anti-Islam movie.

Zardari called on the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to take all measures to protect the places of worship of Christians and other minorities and to address their grievances.

The St Paul's Lutheran Church was built in 1930 and is situated on three kanals of land.

Mardan, the hometown of provincial Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, has some 5,000 Christian families that moved to the region in 1903.

Many Christians work for the local municipality and a majority of them live in the Mardan cantonment.

The Christians of Mardan demanded the reconstruction of the church during a protest yesterday.

The protestors said they too are Pakistanis and condemned all acts against Islam like the sacrilegious film.

However, they said they expected the same treatment from their "Muslim brothers".

Friday's nationwide protests against the anti-Islam film resulted in 23 deaths and the destruction of property worth billions of rupees.

The government had declared a national holiday to facilitate protests but the situation got out of control as mobs went on the rampage in cities across the country.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
India and Bangladesh basketball players in action during the 4th South Asian Basketball...

India and Bangladesh basketball players in action during the 4th South Asian Basketball...

A farmer works in a paddy field at Reba Maheswar village, 56 kilometers (35 miles) east of Gauhati..

A farmer works in a paddy field at Reba Maheswar village, 56 kilometers (35 miles) east of Gauhati..

A tiger attacking spotted deers at Nagarahole National Park in Mysore district on Friday...

A tiger attacking spotted deers at Nagarahole National Park in Mysore district on Friday...

Monsoon rain clouds hover over the backdrop of Kitthur Rani Chennamma statue near Town Hall...

Monsoon rain clouds hover over the backdrop of Kitthur Rani Chennamma statue near Town Hall...

Protesters run for cover after police fired teargas shell to disperse them during a clash...

Protesters run for cover after police fired teargas shell to disperse them during a clash...

A gust of wind bends the umbrella of a street vendor crossing the road during a heavy downpour...

A gust of wind bends the umbrella of a street vendor crossing the road during a heavy downpour...

Indian Muslims offer prayers during Ramadan at the Vasi Ullah mosque in Allahabad...

Indian Muslims offer prayers during Ramadan at the Vasi Ullah mosque in Allahabad...

Buddhist monks from Thailand offer special prayers for making a new Temple...

Buddhist monks from Thailand offer special prayers for making a new Temple...

A worker drying up vermicelli at a factory in Allahabad on Friday during Ramadan...

A worker drying up vermicelli at a factory in Allahabad on Friday during Ramadan...

Bollywood actors Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari and Arshad Warsi at the launch of a new multiplex...

Bollywood actors Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari and Arshad Warsi at the launch of a new multiplex...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523