April 1, 2005
By Anto Akkara*
DELHI (ENI)—Church officials in Pakistan say the firing on a Christian
congregation during Easter Sunday that killed one worshipper and injured
seven others shows the vulnerability of the Christian community in the
assailants fired bullets at the Christians on Easter Sunday, March 27,
when about 50 worshippers in Khahamba village near Lahore were leaving a
service at the New Apostolic Church in the locality.
(attack) shows the vulnerability of the Christian community," said
Sohail Aktar, spokesperson for the National Council of Churches of
Pakistan, which groups four major
churches in the south Asian country. The nation’s Methodists are part
of the Church of Pakistan, which also includes the Anglicans, Lutherans
to Ecumenical News International from the council’s office in Lahore,
Aktar said the latest attack on the Christians "reinforces our
helplessness," and noted, "If we try to resist them, things become very
difficult for us."
than 95 percent of Pakistan’s 141 million people are Muslims, while
Christians number just more than 3 million. Hindus and traditional
believers account for the rest of the population.
a dozen major shooting incidents on church targets in Pakistan have
claimed the lives of more than 36 Christians since October 2001, when
the United States and its allies launched military action in neighboring
Mundizar of the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement, a
Christian social action group that made an on-the-spot study of the
attack, said the majority Muslims in the village were "demanding the
return of land their Muslim ancestors had donated decades back" to
landless Christians who are mostly illiterate and survive carrying out
the Christians refused to return the land where they have built a
church and also have their cemetery," said Mundizar, who visited the
site of the shooting.
victims being treated in hospital, Mundizar said the shootout was
carried out by the people who had been in the forefront of the dispute
with the Christians demanding the land. Police have arrested four people
in connection with the attack and confiscated assault weapons.
is another instance of the overall discrimination and intolerance
against the non-Muslims here," lamented Samson Joseph, of the Roman
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan. "The majority
(community) finds it difficult to accept us and wants to always dominate
and dictate terms to us."
*Akkara is a writer for Ecumenical News International, which distributed this story.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.