Asia Evangelical Alliance condemns the burning of a church in Mardan, near Peshawar, Pakistan on September 21 by a Muslim mob in response to Western acts of "blasphemy" against prophet Muhammad.
According to local media and church sources, a several thousand strong mob stormed the compound of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and St Paul’s High School in Mardan after Friday prayers. The Diocese of Peshawar reported that the church was set alight and the homes of its two priests and the school’s headmaster were destroyed. The school, which serves the Christian and Muslim community, was ransacked and newly installed computers taken away by the mob.
"The damage has been very severe, and we will need to rebuild. We are asking for people around the world to keep us in your prayers," said Bishop Humphrey Peters of Peshawar.
The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah released a statement condemning the attack, saying the church burnings would damage "relations between the communities in Pakistan and around the world." The government and faith leaders in Pakistan have a role to play in education people that they have the right to protest, but to damage property and terrify people in this way is completely wrong. The government and faith leaders should provide the lead in preventing attacks," Bishop Azariah said.
Earlier on 12 Sept 2010 a remote-controlled explosive device placed against the wall of St Paul's detonated, causing one wall of the church to collapse. Two policemen were reported injured in the midnight blast, which sparked panic among revelers in the streets celebrating the second day of the Muslim Eid festival. Police at the time blamed the attack on Islamists.
AEA calls for peace in the region and urges the government of Pakistan to take all necessary steps to protect the life and property of minority groups within the country.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Asia Evangelical Alliance
New Delhi, India