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Appeal from Pakistan to rebuild St Paul’s Mardan: The Church of England Newspaper, October 14, 2012 p 6. October 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
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Bishop Peter Majeed has issued an appeal for assistance to rebuild St Paul’s Church in Mardan.

The “church, bishop’s house, diocesan center, priest’s houses, principal’s house, library and school” were damaged in the attack on 21 Sept 2012, the Lutheran bishop reported.

“This was the third time in two years that the church and my house have been attacked.  First two times the mob were not able to damage the above mentioned places, but this time the mob comprised thousands of people who were protesting against the blasphemous movie and the damage they managed to do was much more severe. The mob managed to get into the church compound, after which they first burnt down the church building, and then stole the cash and other expensive items. A car, three motor bikes and all belongings were stolen from the priest houses. We thank God that our families managed to escape safely,” Bishop  Majeed wrote.

He added the mob also sought to kill the 20 year old son of the Rev. Chan Masih and “tried to throw him in the burning church, but he was saved with the help of some people and police.”

Built in 1937 by Norwegian and Danish Lutheran missionaries, the interior of the church was constructed of Burmese teak. Now “only the ashes are left behind” while the walls are “in danger of collapsing any time.”

The chief minister of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Ameer Haider Khan Hoti, said on 25 September 2012 his government would contribute Rs30 million for the church’s reconstruction.  While the mob was justified in their anger at the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims”, they were wrong to have burnt a church in response.

“Muslims had the every right to stage peaceful protest on [the festival of] Yum-i-Ishq-i-Rasool. However, unfortunately some miscreants damaged valuable property and destroyed the church. These elements have earned the country and Islam a bad name,” he said.

Bishop Majeed appealed to “all Christians in the world to stand with us in prayers and help us to rebuild the house of God and the houses of His servants, who have been rendered homeless and are living with their friends and relatives.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Pakistan President denounces church burning; The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012, p 6. October 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
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St Paul’s Mardan after the 21 Sept 2012 attack

The President of Pakistan has condemned last week’s attack on a church in Mardan in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A mob set fire to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and looted St Paul’s High School in response to Western acts of “blasphemy” against Muhammad made in the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube video.

On 23 September 2012 President Asif Ali Zardari said “vandalizing revered places of worship and inflicting damage in retaliation amounted to playing into the hands of perpetrators of the crime who produced the anti-Islam film.”

On 21 Sept a several thousand strong mob stormed the church compound after Friday prayers on Ishq-e-Rasool day. The Diocese of Peshawar reported the church was set alight and the homes of its two priests and the school’s headmaster were destroyed. The school, which serves the Christian and Muslim community, was ransacked and newly installed computers taken away by the mob.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has ordered inquiry into the attack and has called for patience on the part of the Christian community, Express News reported.

“The damage has been very severe, and we will need to rebuild. We are asking for people around the world to keep us in your prayers,” said Bishop Humphrey Peters of Peshawar.

The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah released a statement condemning the attack, saying the church burnings would damage “relations between the communities in Pakistan and around the world.

“The government and faith leaders in Pakistan have a role to play in education people that they have the right to protest, but to damage property and terrify people in this way is completely wrong. The government and faith leaders should provide the lead in preventing attacks,” Bishop Azariah said.

On 12 Sept 2012 a remote-controlled explosive device placed against the wall of St Paul’s detonated, causing one wall of the church to collapse.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.