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Bishop appeals for aid after arson attack

Local reports have raised doubts about donations

The burnt car of a pastor after a mob attack The burnt car of a pastor after a mob attack
  • ucanews.com reporter, Mardan
  • Pakistan
  • October 8, 2012
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A bishop has appealed for assistance to families affected by a mob attack on a church and adjacent houses last month, amid reports of intra-church fighting over funds.

The Sarhadi Lutheran Church in Mardan, along with St. Paul’s school and the houses of the bishop and two pastors, were burned down on September 21 during protests against Innocence of Muslims, an American-made anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube.

“I urge everybody to come forward and donate simple things like clothing and household goods," said Bishop Peter Majeed after a Sunday service in the compound of the razed church.

Local reports said two groups in the Christian community, one headed by the bishop, scuffled over the collection of financial assistance from government and donor agencies.

In its September 27 edition, Dawn newspaper said the groups attacked each other with clubs, sticks and chairs and leveled corruption charges against each other.

"It has been learnt that Bishop Majeed, priest Ghulam Shad and Mr Andaryas, vice-president of the church, have opened separate bank accounts to collect donations from the government and national and international organisations," the article said.

The bishop refuted these allegations. “Secular media is trying to misguide a noble cause. The funds will be used directly for reconstruction," he said.

He also laughed off allegations that his son was arrested, saying that he does not have a son.

Now, the congregation is trying to return to normal, he said. “We are trying to encourage the faithful and holding regular services in a tent."

Police guards have been doubled and municipality workers continue to remove debris from the church. St. Paul’s school reopened last week after partial renovation.

“Attendance is back to normal but still there are no cupboards or tables for teachers in the 12 classrooms. Plus we need at least five doors”, said Shamshad Sabar, the principal.

The chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has announced a fund of 30 million rupees (US$ 314,823) for church reconstruction. The church would need an estimated 1.5 trillion rupees to reconstruct the whole premises.

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