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Neo-Christian Church attacked in Pakistan’s capital

A mob of men fired bullets and pelted bricks at the Voice of Jesus Church in Islamabad's Khokhar town area Sunday
Furniture strewn around at the Voice of Jesus Church in Khokhar town in Pakistan's national capital Islamabad after it was attacked by a mob of armed men during the evening prayer on April 16

Furniture strewn around at the Voice of Jesus Church in Khokhar town in Pakistan's national capital Islamabad after it was attacked by a mob of armed men during the evening prayer on April 16. (Photo supplied)

Published: April 18, 2023 11:51 AM GMT

Police stepped up security around a neo-Christian church in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad following a mob attack on Sunday.

The Voice of Jesus Church in Khokhar town was pelted with bricks by a mob of around 40 armed men who are also suspected to have fired bullets during the evening prayer on April 16.

The outer wall of the church carried three bullet marks while the gates and windows were damaged. The area houses nine churches and fear has gripped the local Christians.

A case has been registered at the Khanna police station in Islamabad under the anti-terrorism law.

Pastor Younas Masih of the Voice of Jesus Church told UCA News that the attack followed the harassment of his daughter and son by a group of hooligans.

“Two motorcyclists followed them as my son drove her home. A scuffle broke out when my younger brother and son tried to stop them from hooting. They then started calling others and tried to enter the building,” he said.

The pastor said Christian women in the neighborhood are often harassed by groups of men while on their way for prayers.

“We are providing names of more culprits to the police and hoping some action will be taken,” Masih said.

Meanwhile, two policemen have been posted at the gates of the home-based Church which has some 60 Christian families residing in its vicinity.

According to Tanveer Hussain Kayani, a sub-inspector at Khanna police station, four attackers, including two named in the complaint, have been arrested.

“It’s not a religious issue. Both parties live on the same street,” the sub-inspector said and called it a "fight between kids."

Shahzad Sohatra, president of the Islamabad-based Christian Awakening Movement Pakistan objected to the casual manner in which the police officer described the incident.

“Our church has been desecrated. We shall fight for the honor of our daughters. The morality of our society has collapsed. They don’t care about the sensitivities of other religions. We are not left alone even during [the Islamic holy month of] Ramadan,” he said.

Church leaders and rights activists have repeatedly voiced concerns over growing intolerance and security threats to minority communities.

Hours before the church attack in Islamabad, a mob desecrated the dome and minarets of a 118-year-old Ahmadiyya place of worship at Ghughiat village in Punjab province.

Seven Ahmadiyya places of worship have been desecrated in Punjab and Sindh provinces this year alone, according to community leaders.

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