As thousands of Christians in Pakistan remembered the bombings of St. John Catholic Church and Christ Church, calls for Akash Bashir to be canonized as a saint could be heard. Last year, March 15, the two churches in the predominately Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad were attacked by suicide bombers attached to the Pakistani Taliban. Bashir, a young security volunteer at St. John Catholic Church, subdued one of the suicide bombers and prevented him from entering the church. As a result, Bashir was killed with the bomber outside the church when the bomber detonated his vest. Many in Youhanabad remember Bashir as a hero and are calling for him to be sainted by the Catholic Church.
3/14/2016 Pakistan (UCAN) – A young man killed while preventing a suicide bomber from entering a crowded church should be considered for canonization, according to Catholics marking the anniversary of a deadly terrorist attack carried out in Lahore on March 15 last year.
Volunteer security guard Akash Bashir, 20, stopped the suicide bomber from entering St. John’s Catholic Church and tackled him while being aware he wore a bomb vest.
The attacker — from a Taliban splinter group — detonated the bomb, killing himself and Bashir outside the church.
Father Francis Gulzar, the parish priest, said the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on two churches in the Youhanabad area of Lahore marks the beginning of a movement to seek sainthood for Bashir. “Akash is our hero; his bravery saved more than 2,000 people inside the church,” said Father Gulzar. “He has inspired local Christian youth and now many are joining the church’s security,” he said.
Bashir was one of at least 15 people who died in the attacks and more than 70 were wounded. The other site simultaneously attacked was a nearby Protestant church. Currently 42 Christians remain in jail over the lynching of two Muslims who were suspected of being involved in the attacks.
Under tight police security, Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore and seven priests conducted a Mass on March 13 in the memory of victims of last year’s terror attack.
“We are proud of our brave son who lived a short but meaningful life,” Archbishop Shah told ucanews.com news.
“It was the result of his spiritual passion and the teachings of Bible,” said the archbishop.