ASIA/PAKISTAN - Three Christians who wanted to build a chapel have been injured

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Three Pakistani Christian men who were working on the construction of a chapel in Sahiwal, in the Pakistani province of Punjab, were injured in an attack by people who wanted to stop the project. As Agenzia Fides learns, in recent days Muslims Muhammad Akram, Muhammad Liaqat, Aslam and their companions attacked the Christians, who had expressed their intention of building a small chapel on their land in the village where they live, the "Chak 92 -9L", in Sahiwal district. The village is made up of 150 houses, while the total Christian population is about 120 faithful. Gulzar Masih, one of the local Christians, owner of a plot of land (with a legal certificate of ownership), intended to build a simple building to be used as a chapel for the worship of local Christians, currently forced to travel several kilometers to go to a church. Muhammad Liaqat opposed the construction of the church, contesting the ownership of that land and also contesting the idea of having a Christian church in the village. A quarrel arose which ended with the arrival of the police who stopped the people involved in the fight: Gulzar and his son, Liaqat and his companions, all subsequently released.
On the same day Muhammad Liaqat with his accomplices, this time equipped with firearms and cutting weapons, began to demolish the surrounding wall that the Christians had begun to build. Upon the arrival of Gulzar Masih and other faithful, who wanted to prevent the demolition, the attackers opened fire seriously injuring three Christians: Azeem, Gulzar’s son, Sajjad and Razaq, all then hospitalized in the civil hospital of Sahiwal. The police again arrested some suspects but in the meantime the attackers also filed a complaint against the Christians, claiming to have been attacked.
According to the NGO CLAAS (Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement), which provides legal assistance to Christians in the village, it is "a patent violation of the right to worship of the faithful, and an abuse committed by other Muslim citizens, who use indiscriminate violence against religious minorities". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/2/2020)