Asia Evangelical Alliance condemns the shocking attack against the Christian community in Gojra, in the province of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab which left eight people, including two children, dead.
On August 1, Islamists set ablaze about 47 Christian houses in village Korian District Toba Tek Singh on Thursday, July 30, 2009 after accusing local Christians of blasphemy. According to reports released by Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, a Pakistani faith based Human Right agency, the blasphemy charges were leveled against a young Christian boy, Imran Masih, and his father Talib Masih. Talib Masih is an illitrate scrap collector ignorantly brought home a piece of paper that had Quranic verses written on it, along with some other old and used papers from the villages. Some local Muslims alleged that Talib's children ripped apart the paper of Holy Quran.
Angered by the incident, over 800 Muslims from nearby villages were armed with firearms and explosives, attacked the Christians of the village incited further by broadcasts from local mosques. The Christian residents fled to safety as Muslim clerics announced their verdict to “kill the blasphemers.” Local reports suggest that some young Christian girls are also missing from the village. The Christian houses were completely gutted The Muslim mob also took away Christians' cattle with them. Muslim extremist also attacked the New Apostolic Church and the Church of Pakistan in the village and had desecrated and ransacked the other churches.
After the latest massacre, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, appointed a committee of inquiry and announced compensation of 500,000 rupees, a little more than 4,000 euros, for the relatives of the victims.
Similar episodes of violence broke out in the towns of Shantinagar in 1997, and Shangla Hill in 2005. Just last month, accusations of blasphemy triggered violence in four different towns in Punjab. On Tuesday (August 4), two people were killed in the town of Muridke after a similar accusation was raised.
Christians of Pakistan are the largest religious minority in the country. In 2008, they were estimated to make up about 1 percent of the population, but Christian leaders argue the number is closer to 5 percent. More than 90 percent of the country's Christians live in Punjab, which makes them the largest religious minority in the province.
AEA calls of the Pakistani government:
You can express your concern by calling, faxing or writing at the below mentioned addresses and numbers:
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
(O) Phone: +92-51-9206069
(O) Fax: +92-51-9203297 & +92-51-922 1422
Email: [email protected]
Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
(O) Phone: +92-51-9206111
(O) Fax: +92-51-9206907
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Asia Evangelical Alliance
New Delhi, India