Christians Wounded In Muslim Attack On Church Service In Pakistan

From Morning Star News:
LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – At least seven Christian worshippers were injured in an armed attack by local Muslims on a church service on Sunday (March 18) in southern Punjab Province, Pakistan, the church pastor told Morning Star News.

Pastor Haleem Feroze Masih of the King Jesus Church in Burewala, 155 miles (251 kilometers) southwest of Lahore, said he was leading the service when at least 15 local Muslims led by Muhammad Sharif entered the church compound around 1 p.m. and attacked the congregation.

The attack was preceded by a clash outside the church building.

“Some of our church elders were trying to install a flex signboard in connection with the upcoming Easter festival on the wall in front of the church but they were stopped by Sharif’s sons,” Pastor Masih said. “Sharif is a local tough who has previously grabbed a piece of the Christian cemetery in our colony and built a cattle shed on the graves. He is also running a gambling den and is known to patronize criminals.”

Last Christmas, Sharif had installed a sign on the wall in front of the church building in Burewala’s New Christian Colony congratulating the congregation on the holy occasion, but church members later noticed that it contained photos and phone numbers of Sharif, his sons and others, Pastor Masih said.

“Suspicions also arose when these Muslim youths started hanging out near the church during service timings and began teasing our girls,” he said.

Pastor Masih said that he and other church elders spoke about these matters with Sharif and the other Muslims “a couple of times,” but they refused to take down the sign or stop their young men from harassing the Christian women.

On Sunday (March 18) church elders tried to replace the Muslims’ sign with their own, but Sharif’s sons stopped them, he said, adding that the property belongs to a Christian.

“The elders tried to reason with the youths, but it seems that the Muslims intentionally wanted to pick a fight with us,” he said.

The Muslims snatched the church’s sign and tore it into pieces, Pastor Masih said.

“One of our church elders told the Muslims that they had desecrated biblical verses inscribed on the flex sign, to which they responded that, ‘We are bigger than your Jesus,’” he said.

The Muslims stormed the church compound and began beating church members with batons and bricks, he said.

“Some of them whipped out their weapons and opened fire on the church members, who ran to save themselves,” he said. “I immediately telephoned the police and headed out to try and defuse the situation. However, I was also beaten up, my service robe torn and my mobile phone smashed to the ground. I think we were fortunate that none of us suffered a fatal bullet injury during the clash.”

Pastor Masih said the assailants even attacked police when officers arrived.

“They also pelted stones at the police, but the policemen managed to arrest Sharif, his sons and another unidentified man from the spot while the others fled along with the weapons,” he said….

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