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Press Release — April 8, 2002

Another Pakistani Church Terrorized

Christians Harassed, Fear Future Attacks on Churches in Satrah

On Sunday, 7th April 2002, at 8:00pm local time, seven to eight Muslim youth disrupted the service of the Presbyterian Church in Satrah, near Gujranwala, abusing members of the congregation and using derogatory words. The youth, ranging between 14 and 25 years of age, were holding Klashinkov automatic weapons, which they fired into the air. By the grace of God, no one was injured and there was no damage to the church building.

Upon hearing a call for help from the church’s pastor, Rev. Hameed, who used the church loudspeaker to call for assistance, many villagers rushed toward the church. One church member, Mr. Emmanuel Gill, saw the attackers fleeing the scene and recognized several of them as area youth who have been active in Islamic militant groups. According to Mr. Gill, these young men had been trained in Afghanistan and are well known for their Islamic activities.

After this incident, the Christians of Satrah immediately gathered together and nearly 200 of them went to the local police station to register a F.I.R. (First Incident Report). However, Mr.Mohammad Waqar, the police officer in charge, refused to register the F.I.R. He said, “Some policemen also heard the voice of firing and I will investigate this matter.” On hearing this, Rev. Hameed and the local Christians informed the Senior Superintendent Police officer who also did not pay them any heed. Other local authorities also tried to hush up the incident.

Satrah is a famous village near Gujranwala district on Pasrur road where approximately three hundred Christian families are residing along with approximately one thousand Muslim families. This area is also famous for the presence of Islamic militant groups such as the Lakshar-I-Taiba, Jash-I-Mohammad, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen and Muslim fighters. According to the local Christians, some Muslim youths of this area have also joined the Taliban for jihad in Afghanistan.

It is worth mentioning that a few months ago Rev. Rehamat of this area received a threatening letter from the Muslim Fighter Group. In this letter they demanded that the Church be closed and warned that if Church services and prayers continue to be conducted, then the Church will be attacked. They also stated: “We will take revenge on Christians for Muslim killings and atrocities. America, U.K, Canada, Australia, Europe and even the United Nations cannot save your Churches. WE WILL PAINT THE WALLS OF CHURCHES WITH BLOOD.” Pastor Rehamat informed the police authorities of this threat, but they did not take any action.

Since September 11th, Pakistani Christians have been killed in two deadly church attacks. International Christian Concern, a Washington, DC based human rights organization, encourages Christians everywhere to raise their voice and demand government protection of Pakistani Christians. The perpetrators of crimes against Christians must also be brought to justice. ICC also asks Americans to pray for the fearful Christians of Satrah.

The Pakistani Embassy can be reached at the following phone number: (202) 939-6200