Pakistan Christians Threatened After Mourning Suicide Attack Victims
ICC Note: The two suicide attacks that took place in Peshawar, Pakistan are the largest single attack on Christians in the country’s history. Now the persecution has continued as families and friends of those killed in the bombing are receiving threats becasuse they are “openly expressing grief” over the loss. The Christian community has participated in demonstrations decrying the violence that took nearly 200 lives, but there have been some who have threatened them because of these demonstrations, highlighting the deep divides that exist between religious groups in Pakistan.
10/13/2013 Pakistan (BosNewsLife) – A Pakistani Christian family was hiding Sunday, October 13, after allegedly receiving death threats for protesting against twin suicide attacks at a historic church in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, in which their friends were killed. In total at least 171 people died and some 150 people were injured in the September blasts at Peshawar’s All Saints Church, officials said.
Local resident Waqas Pervez, 26, told BosNewsLife that he and his family were “forced to flee” Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and now hide in another city after suspected Muslim militants threatened to kill him, his mother and other relatives.
He said the men were angry that he was openly expressing grief at an anti-violence demonstration about the loss of his friends and those who were injured in the suicide attacks.
“The problems began on Monday, September 23, when I and other Christians were protesting on [Peshawar’s] University road near a Christian cemetery to mourn our loved ones and to express concerns over the suicide attacks. As we walked towards the Jamia Mosque, clerics and others came out and tried to stop the protesters and scatter them,” he said.
Both the demonstrators and attackers were injured, according to witnesses.
“Clerics from the locality vowed to avenge the injuries and they started looking for the people who were leading the protest,” Pervez said.
A day after, “several men came to my house where they threatened me and my mother who was injured in the attack,” he said. “My brother Fahad Pervez and maternal uncle Johnson Yousaf tried to stop them, but they assaulted them also. My uncle was injured and they threatened to kill the whole family,” Pervez recalled.
He said the family was forced to leave everything behind and now lives in hiding in another city.
A priest, who was not identified for security reasons, helped them escape.
Activists say this isn’t an isolated case. Christians in Pakistan have complained about persecution for their faith in several parts of this heavily Islamic nation.
News of the tensions in Peshawar came while in Punjab province three Christians including a pastor feared for their lives after police charged them with blasphemy against Islam, BosNewsLife learned.
Pastor Adnan and fellow Christians Arfan and Mushtaq Masih said they were detained in Lahore city last Wednesday, October 9, under controversial blasphemy laws.