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Church Forgives Bible Desecration
Christians in Lahore urged not to riot or fight in retaliation against Muslim’s action

04/11/2011 Pakistan (UCA News)-Church leaders are urging Christians to remain calm after a Muslim tore up a Bible at Lahore Cathedral in retaliation against the burning of a Qur’an by an American pastor.

“Promise me you won’t riot …. Promise you won’t fight. It is another trial for Christianity in Pakistan. Be patient in suffering and follow the passion of Christ,” pleaded Lahore archdiocesan vicar general Father Andrew Nisari during Sunday Mass at Lahore’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Christians voiced outrage after Mohammad Akhtar, a Muslim factory worker, tore up a copy of the Bible at the gates of the cathedral on April 8.

Police have charged Akhtar, 30, with blasphemy for “outraging religious feelings.”

Church authorities say they have forgiven Akhtar, who is still in jail.

“The state will deal with the criminal. Pursing the matter will invite more trouble. However we are deeply concerned with growing anti-Christian sentiments,” said retired Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore.

The burning of a Qur’an after a mock trial three weeks ago by a Christian sect in Florida sparked outrage among Muslims. Reports in Pakistan say three churches have been attacked since the Qur’an burning. In neighboring Afghanistan, 24 people, including seven foreign UN workers were killed by protesters.

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