KARACHI, Pakistan – Two Christians were gunned down and two others are in a serious condition with bullet wounds after Muslim youths attacked them outside a church building in Hyderabad last night, witnesses said.
Residents of Hurr Camp, a colony of working-class Christians in Hyderabad in Sindh Province, were reportedly celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church when a group of Muslim youths gathered outside the building and started playing music loudly on their cell phones. They also started teasing Christian women as they arrived for the celebration, according to reports.
Christians Younis Masih, 47, Siddique Masih, 45, Jameel Masih, 22, and a 20-year-old identified as Waseem came out of the church building to stop the Muslim youths from teasing the Christian women, telling them to respect the sanctity of the church. A verbal clash ensued, after which the Muslim youths left, only to return with handguns. more >>
A Pakistani Christian man who was sentenced last year to life in prison for “blasphemy” was found dead Tuesday morning, according to officials in the Islamic republic.
Qamar David, who was charged with blasphemy in 2006 and imprisoned ever since, died of a heart attack sometime over the course of the night, officials told the press after David was found dead in his prison cell.
“There is no question about it; he died of natural causes," Sindh Inspector General of Prisons Ghulam Qadir Thebo told the BBC. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – A Christian mother of seven here who last August was kidnapped, raped, sold into marriage and threatened with death if she did not convert to Islam was freed this week.
After she refused to convert and accept the marriage, human traffickers had threatened to kill Shaheen Bibi, 40, and throw her body into the Sindh River if her father, Manna Masih, did not pay a ransom of 100,000 rupees (US$1,170) by Saturday (March 5), the released woman told Compass.
Drugged into unconsciousness, Shaheen Bibi said that when she awoke in Sadiqabad, her captors told her she had been sold and given in marriage. more >>
LAHORE, Pakistan – Christians in south Punjab Province are accusing senior district officials of supporting local Muslims who allegedly demolished 150 Christian graves and desecrated holy relics – and are now threatening Christians seeking legal redress.
In the Kot Addu area of Muzaffargarh district, Waseem Shakir told Compass by telephone that an influential Muslim group last Nov. 6 took illegal possession of a 1,210-square yard piece of land designated as a Christian cemetery and set up shops on it. Official records state that the portion of land was allotted as a Christian cemetery, he said.
“Local Muslims demolished 150 Christians’ graves and desecrated the cross and biblical inscriptions on the graves in a bid to construct shops on the property,” said Shakir, a resident of Chak (Village) 518, Peer Jaggi Morr, Kot Addu. “Only five marlas [151.25 square yards] are all that is left for the Christians to bury their dead now.” more >>
The government of Pakistan and much of the population there are being blackmailed by religious extremists who are uninterested in justice for all, said Anglican leader Dr. Rowan Williams.
And "this must not be allowed to happen," he asserted.
In a statement Monday, published in U.K.'s The Times, Williams made the observation that Pakistan was headed down the "catastrophic road" where political and factional murder becomes almost routine. more >>
The funeral mass of minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti drew high-profile figures, but notably absent from the event were Pakistan President Asif Zardari and opposition leaders.
Mourners paid their last respect to Bhatti on Friday at Islamabad’s main church, Fatima Church, amid high security. Police and security forces blocked cars from coming near the church before the ceremony began for the only Christian cabinet member who was assassinated Wednesday for opposing the blasphemy laws. Those who entered the church were subjected to being searched by metal detectors, according to Agence France-Presse.
Among the crowd at the memorial were Bhatti’s family members, some members of the cabinet, government officials and diplomats. more >>