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Pakistan's Christians told to 'protect themselves'
BP News ^ | Sep 10, 2002 | Barbara G. Baker

Posted on 09/11/2002 6:25:25 AM PDT by SJackson

By ISTANBUL (BP)--In the wake of two more deadly terrorist attacks against Christian institutions in Pakistan in early August, government security officials have advised local church leaders to arm themselves for possible assaults by Muslim extremists.

"It's their way of saying, 'We cannot protect you. You will have to protect yourselves,'" one Christian leader told Compass Direct news service.

In a carefully planned set of assaults, armed Islamic militants shot six people dead on Aug. 5 at Murree Christian School for missionary children. Just four days later, another handful of extremists hurled grenades at the chapel of Taxila Christian Hospital, killing five more and wounding another 26. All the victims were Pakistani citizens.

The deadly raids were the most recent of four deliberate attacks on Christian targets in Pakistan since President Pervez Musharraf swung his support behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001. Previous grenade blasts during worship services had taken the lives of 21 and left dozens more crippled in churches in Bahawalpur last October and Islamabad in March.

Concentrated in the Punjab province, Christians make up less than 5 percent of Pakistan's 145 million people. Local church leaders believe their congregations have been targeted over the past year by radical Islamist movements who associate Christians with the West both politically and militarily.

After the latest Murree and Taxila attacks, the Islamabad government ordered token security protection by local police and army staff for Christian churches across the country during their regular worship services.

In Lahore, the superintendent of police told daily newspapers that due to insufficient manpower he could only delegate one, two or at the most three police guards to protect all the city's 164 churches at their Sunday services.

"But this only went on for about two weeks," one church leader said. "Then the security called us in and said the rest was up to us." Each parish was urged to get gun licenses, hire and train guards, and instruct its congregation and staff on how to respond in case of attack.

Security officials also called in administrators of the hundreds of Christian schools, hospitals and other institutions run by the Christian community across the nation, explaining that it was impossible for the government to protect them all.

"They are almost forcing us to go and buy guns," a clergyman commented. "Before, it was very difficult for a Christian to even get a gun license, but now every church can get up to four." Some congregations cannot afford weapons, however, and many object in principle to arming themselves in a place dedicated to worship and Christian service.

"I still do not feel completely at ease while worshiping under the supervision of the police," Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Church of Pakistan's Raiwand Diocese told the Daily Times newspaper Aug. 14. "Psychologically it makes one feel like a convict," he said.

"It doesn't feel good at all," agreed another clergyman. "And because our diocese is in financial straits, we are not even able to buy guns for our gatekeepers," he told Compass. "They are very frightened."

"The fact that we are praying to God under the shadow of guns is very disheartening for me," one woman parishioner admitted. "I am a Pakistani, [so] I should not feel insecure within my country."

"I am not moving about much now," commented one bishop based in a city known for its Islamic fanaticism. "And when I do, I borrow a vehicle because everybody knows my car here."

Inevitably, Bishop Azariah said, the situation has created a "siege" mindset within the Christian community. Some Christian institutions in more remote areas have had to resort to sandbagging their premises and hiring several more watchmen.

"Sundays are bad for us," another clergyman sighed. "Pray for us, that our people will get their confidence back, and not be afraid to come to church."

--30-

Copyright 2002 Compass Direct, a news service based in Santa Ana, Calif., and on the Internet at www.compassdirect.org, reporting on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: banglist; christianpersecutio; islamicviolence; southasialist

1 posted on 09/11/2002 6:25:25 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: SJackson
"We cannot protect you. You will have to protect yourselves"

At least they allow them to use guns when needed. Not the like the poor Brits.
2 posted on 09/11/2002 6:34:21 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: SJackson
bump
3 posted on 09/11/2002 6:37:01 AM PDT by Red Jones
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To: *bang_list
*bang_list
4 posted on 09/11/2002 6:37:45 AM PDT by SJackson
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To: SJackson
Religion of peace again.
5 posted on 09/11/2002 6:37:48 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: SJackson
The Muslim threat could have the unintended consequence of bringing about a Christian renaissance worldwide and uniting Christians and Jews in the service of the One True God.

Such a spiritual reawakening would be splendid in and of itself. It would also be the best defense against Islam, Muslim imperialism, and the overt intention of Muslims to establish a worldwide Islamic theocracy with the Koran as the only "constitution" and the shariah as international law.

6 posted on 09/11/2002 6:46:06 AM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: SJackson
Sell your cloak etc.

It may not be the firearm that's expensive. The four gun licenses could be the problem.

It looks like the Muslims have long started a war with the Christians and the latter never received the formal invitations.
7 posted on 09/11/2002 7:51:36 AM PDT by Shooter 2.5
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To: *southasia_list; *Islamic_violence; *Christian persecutio
Index Bump
8 posted on 09/11/2002 8:29:53 AM PDT by Free the USA
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To: expatpat
Amazing, isn't it, that a Western Democracy frowns on defense of self, family and property, while an Eastern "Military Dictatorship" advocates the arming of its own citizens.

Maybe Musharraf isn't the bad guy the BBC made him out to be after all?

9 posted on 09/11/2002 12:49:11 PM PDT by Cobra Scott
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To: SJackson
More slaughter of the innocent, brought to you courtesy of the "religion of peace"... Islam, its not just for spirituality anymore... fulfill your homocidal tendencies with the support of your religion.
10 posted on 09/11/2002 12:55:06 PM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: Cobra Scott
FWIW, during recent questioning regarding possibly making Pakistan a secular nation; Musharraf has made it perfectly clear that Pakistan will continue to be an Islamic state. All infidels living in Pakistan should keep that in mind - they are still fair game and have rights worth $hit.

This is literally your tax dollars at work!
11 posted on 09/11/2002 9:11:42 PM PDT by Aaron_A
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