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Film sparks beatings in Abbottabad

Catholics warn against public expressions of faith in town where bin Laden died

  • ucanews.com reporter, Abbottabad
  • Pakistan
  • August 15, 2011
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The Catholic Church is warning Christians near the town where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed to be on their guard and take care how they express their faith publicly after several Christians were attacked while watching a biblical epic.

Several Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) Church workers were beaten on August 12 for playing Jesus, a 1979 movie based on the life of Christ, in a park in Abbottabad, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The Muslim attackers also smashed the projector before police intervened.

No arrests were made and clerics have warned of further attacks in the wake of several public “acts” by FGA members.

The attack came just over a week after authorities interrogated a local Catholic priest for looking at Osama bin Laden’s house near Pakistan’s top military academy.

Bin Laden, head of terror group al-Qaeda and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, was killed by US special forces in a raid on the home on May 2.

The media has been denied access to the area since last month.

“I took a foreign friend to the house of a Catholic living near the compound. We were taken away minutes after we climbed on his rooftop,” said Father Akram Javed Gill, parish priest of St. Peter Canisius Church.

“I learnt a lot from that experience. Christians cannot afford to get involved in risky situations, especially after the bin Laden episode,” he said.

Archbishop Emeritus Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore condemned the “stupidity” of the FGA church workers.

“They whole community has to bear the brunt of their indiscretion. They needed to be mindful of the delicate situation,” the prelate said today while on a visit to Abbottabad.

Several copies of the Bible were found on dumps after the FGA Church tried distributing 100,000 copies around the country, he added.

Related reports:

Churches unite after bin Laden death
Abbottabad Church holds its breath

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