Church attacked during prayer service in Pakistan
A group of angry men vandalized Lala Zarr Church and dragged pastor Zulfiqar outside, where they assaulted him with the butts of their guns.
The prayer service was violently interrupted in the Peshawar church on the 3rd of August. First, a mob of angry men demanded the volume of the sound system to be turned down; then other armed men charged the church, causing terror among believers. They fired their guns, causing grave damage. Pastor Zulfiqar suffered severe injuries to his head and to one of his eyes.
The National Commission for Human Rights in Peshawar denounced the attack, highlighting that such violence is an insult to the core principles of human rights and freedom of religion.
In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of public and private life. Even though there were no major attacks against churches last year, there are almost constant attacks against individuals. Christian converts from Islam are the most vulnerable to persecution.
Christian women and girls are at high risk of being kidnapped, sexually assaulted, forced into marriages with their kidnappers and coerced conversion to Islam. Parents don’t have legal rights to rescue their daughters from these marriages.
Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws are used to accuse Christians and other non-Muslims of insulting the Prophet Mohammed. False accusations are often made to target Christians after an unrelated dispute, and these can lead to mob violence. The most severe punishment is the death penalty for blasphemy. Evangelicals take great risks to distribute God’s word, baptize converts and gather them into churches. Many church leaders work diligently to equip, encourage and educate Christian youth.
Many Christians belong to lower castes of society and are trapped in a cycle of poor education and poverty. They are often forced to work in menial jobs for long hours.