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Muslims try to torch a church on Christmas day

ICC Note:
When the church reported arson to the police, the police “went to three people’s homes but failing to find them, they simply left.”

by Qaiser Felix
AsiaNews (1/2/06) – Christmas was not an easy time for the small Catholic community in the Pakistani village of Nanghal Sahdhaan, in the archdiocese of Lahore, when, on the night before Christmas, Muslim residents tried to torch their small local church, this according to Fr Samuel Raphael, parish priest in the neighbouring Shahdara parish.

As he told AsiaNews, altar cloth, carpet and some other small things were burnt, but no one was hurt.

“It is never the less a profanation of place of worship and so we informed the police, naming the three culprits,” he said.

Police did nothing much though. “They went to the three people’s homes but failing to find them, they simply left.”

The parish priest refused to name the three but explained that they are the same people who on December 19 tried to interrupt the congregation as it was celebrating the Eucharist.

“As we were celebrating mass some Muslims outside the church were shouting and tried to disturb us,” Fr Raphael said.

The official complaint made to the police includes concrete evidence of the three people’s involvement in the attempted Christmas arson.

Although no arrests have been made, the police assured the Christians that it would take the culprits into custody.

Nanghal Sahdhaan is home to some 25 to 30 Catholics in a village that is otherwise predominantly Muslim.

However, according to the clergyman the area is dominated by members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group outlawed in Pakistan. But nothing certain can be said about their involvement in the church profanation.