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Priest averts church attack

Threat to Christians after youth elopes with married Muslim woman

A plaque on a Church reconstructed after a mob attack in Punjab province A plaque on a Church reconstructed after a mob attack in Punjab province
  • ucanews.com reporter, Gojira
  • Pakistan
  • March 19, 2012
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A priest in Gojira in Punjab province is urging local Christians to marry in their own faith to avoid being killed.

“A local maulana [Muslim cleric] threatened a deadly attack on the church if I didn’t find a Muslim girl who eloped with a Catholic youth,” said Father Yaqub Yousaf, parish priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Gojra.

“He called it an insult to their honor and a conspiracy cooked up by Christians in the wake of violence here in 2009. I was afraid after receiving several other telephone threats,” said Father Yaqub Yousaf, parish priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Gojra.

Three years ago, Gojra made international headlines after a Muslim mob raided the Christian colony, two days after setting fire to nearby Korian village.

Ten Christians were killed, seven of them burned alive, while four churches were destroyed following an accusation of blasphemy.

Fears of similar violence grew last week after Anil Aftab, 22, eloped with a married woman on Thursday. Fr Yousaf with the help of local leaders, Christians and Muslims, found the woman at the weekend and handed her over to police. Aftab’s family is in hiding.

“There is no chance the family can return home. Such incidents have become the norm and poor minorities continue getting exploited. We are trying to discourage youths from doing things which can endanger the whole community,” said Fr Yousaf.

“The majority encourages a non-Muslim girl to embrace Islam and marry outside her religion but show zero tolerance if Muslim girls want to marry a non-Muslim.”
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