ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christians united in prayer: guaranteeing the protection of religious minorities

Wednesday, 2 February 2022 human rights   religious minorities  

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - "The brutal attack on Anglican pastors, which took place in Peshawar on January 30, shook the entire Christian community in Pakistan. We strongly condemn the brutal murder of Reverend William Siraj. All of us Christians in Pakistan are united with the Anglican Church of Pakistan and with the families of the late Pastor William Siraj, and Pastor Patrick Naeem, wounded in this attack", is what Msgr. Benny Mario Travas, Archbishop of Karachi told Fides. Two unidentified men on a motorbike opened fire on Anglican Pastors at the All Saints Church in Peshawar as they were leaving the church after Sunday liturgy. Pastor William Siraj, assistant pastor, was killed instantly and Pastor Patrick Naeem was wounded by a bullet, he is now out of danger (see Fides 31/1/2022).
Calling on the entire Christian community in Pakistan to unite in prayer for the deceased and wounded priests, Archbishop Travas said: "I appeal to the government of Pakistan to take immediate and serious action against this incident, arresting the aggressors and working for the peace and security of all religious minorities living in Pakistan". Archbishop Benny Travas, along with Fr. Asher Liaquat, Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) office in Karachi, said in a joint statement: "This incident has caused unrest among Christians and has disturbed peace and religious harmony in Pakistan. We express our deepest condolences to the members of the community, to our Christian brothers and to bereaved family members". Fr Asher Liaquat adds: "We demand that everyone involved in this brutal attack be arrested and tried so that justice can prevail". Hundreds of people from different cities in Pakistan attended the funeral of the late Pastor William Siraj, which was held on January 31 at All Saints Church. Religious groups and social organizations in Pakistan and abroad have condemned the violent attack on Christian religious leaders and expressed their solidarity with the Christian community in Peshawar. The NGO Voice of Justice organized a peaceful protest and vigil in Karachi. Joseph Jansen, President of Voice of Justice, said: "The Christian community in Pakistan has never been involved in terrorist activities and the priests, who proclaim a message of peace and tolerance, are under attack. We urge the government to ensure the protection of our communities". Ilyas Samuel, spokesperson for "Voice of Justice", told Agenzia Fides: "We call on the government of Pakistan to put in place controls on groups that spread hatred or work for the violent radicalization of people" . Ashiknaz Khokhar, promoter of minority rights, notes to Fides: "This incident is a new episode of terrorism and has raised fears among religious minorities living in Pakistan. We are concerned about the safety and protection of our religious minorities. I call on the government of Imran Khan to implement the National Counter-Terrorism Action Plan and take serious action against all those who encourage violence and extremism in our beloved country". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 2/2/2022)