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World News

Persecution in Pakistan: Hundreds of Christians flee homes after mob attack

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian charity has said that hundreds of Christian families have fled their homes in Pakistan after they noticed "a large Muslim mob marching towards their church and chanting against Christians"

Edge foundation, a Christian organisation working for the development and equal rights of children, women and minorities said a timely intervention from the police saved the church and averted a potential attack on people's houses.  
 
According to the pastor, Gulzar Gill, in charge of NCP Church, Karim Nagar, Daroghawala, Lahore, on 7th August he was informed that hundreds of Muslims were marching toward his church. 

He said: "Instantly, I rushed towards the church, where already hundreds of people had gathered and were chanting slogans against Christians and pro Islam. They seem very agitated and eager to attack the church, and it seemed difficult to control the mob. 

"Fortunately, after a few minutes the police had also arrived and immediately engaged the Muslim leader Hafiz Aslam, who was leading the mob. I informed the police that I am the priest in-charge of this church and not aware what had happened.

"The police said the mob was furious about a programme took place in the church on Saturday. It was youth seminar and people had misunderstood the topic "False Prophets".  which was considered sacrilegious."

Pastor Gill added: "I told the police that it was a youth seminar, and we had no intention to hurt anyone's feelings. I apologised on behalf of everyone if inadvertently we had hurt anyone's feelings. 
 
"The police acted very wisely, engaged the Muslim leaders and asked them to tell the mob to leave peacefully. Later on, the mob slowly started to disperse and that was big relief for me and other Christians."

The police then called the local Christian and Muslim leader including, Imam Tanveer Madni, Hafiz Aslam, Pastor Gulzar Gill and lay leader Chaudhry Bhola Masih to sign an agreement and maintain peace in the area. 

Chaudhry Bhola Maish, a local lay leader, said that NCP is the only church in the area and about 250 Christian families live there. 

He said: "When we saw the mob started gathering, everyone was concerned and scared. 

"Many of us have sent our wives and children away to our relatives and they are not coming back until we believe the situation is completely back to normal and there is no more threat of attack on our houses and to our lives."

Maish said although the Muslim and Christian leadership have signed an agreement in the presence of the police, they are still living in fear, and anything can happen at any time. 

"Unfortunately, hatred and discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities continues to grow and the government has failed to address and control the situation and instead introducing policies which promote hate directly and indirectly against Christians and this is making religious minorities' life hell in Pakistan. They are living in fear and worried about their children's future."

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