Pastor Shahid Paul Bhatti, in charge of the Christ Assemblies Church International has revealed that a communal disputed has resulted in an attack on his church on Palm Sunday, April 9. Vandals attacked the congregants just when they were preparing for the Palm Sunday Procession. Consequently, Christians staged a protest outside the Faisalabad Press Club urging for legal action against the perpetrators.
Pastor Shahid stated that prior to April 9, he had requested the concerned police station to provide security to the church during the Palm Sunday service, yet his request was disregarded and no security was provided to the congregants. Church administration met with Afzal Kausar CPO Faisalabad and Rana M. Masoon SSP Operations in this regard.
Pastor Shahid detailed that tensions had already been on the higher side between the local Christian and Muslim communities. He said that he anticipated such an incident as he and other members of the church administration had already been receiving threats.
He claims that sometime ago, a Christian girl from the congregation had eloped with a Muslim and had married him after converting to Islam. Pastor Shahid stated the church administration has become obnoxious to the local Muslim community and the alleged gang involved in the attack because of the fact that the church had aided the family of the girl in pursuing legal action against the culprit. He said that the youngster who had managed deceive Christian girl into converting and marrying him is a family member of the assailants.
Soon after the news of this marriage spread in the area, local influential people had decided that the newly wedded couple will not be allowed to return to the neighborhood, as this may cause dissentions between local Christians and Muslims. Pastor Shahid claims that the gangsters are targeting those who had succored the family of the girl and had been a helping hand in pursuing legal action against the perpetrator.
He revealed that same people have presented several complaints against him and other members of the Christian community in various police stations. He said that as Easter approaches, he and his congregants are anticipating similar incidents and are seeking security from the local police. “I urge social activists, journalists, religious and political leaders to intervene and help bridging the gap between local Christians and Muslims, so that unpleasant incidents can be prevented in future,” he stated.