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Pakistan: Christians attacked over church construction, 1 left partially paralyzed

Persecution of Christians in Pakistan: Christians of all faith traditions are threatened by this kind of mob violence. Pakistan’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians.

The ongoing mistreatment of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan is an issue of immense importance that nevertheless receives scant attention from the UN or international human rights organizations. Please pray that the Christian community in Pakistan will be able to endure this martyrdom and experience a resurrection, and that relief will come to this courageous and long-suffering Christian community.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Pakistani Christians attacked over church construction, 1 left partially paralyzed,” by Samuel Smith, Christian Post, February 27, 2020:

A Pakistani Christian man is partially paralyzed after a mob of Muslim men shot two Christians and attacked another with an ax for constructing a church in a village in Punjab province. 

The Union of Catholic Asia News reports that 25-year-old Azeem Gulzar is now paralyzed from the right shoulder down after he was shot in the head on Feb. 2 in Punjab’s Sahiwal district. 

Gulzar’s cousin was also shot while his uncle was attacked with an ax, according to Gulzar’s younger brother, Waseem. All three men were taken to a hospital but have since been released. 

Gulzar, a tailor, had donated a 550-square-foot plot to be used as the site of a new church for the town’s 150 Christians. However, plans for the church drew the ire of area Muslims as the plot shares a wall with a property owned by a Muslim school teacher. 

The attack came after months of disagreements between Gulzar’s family and the owner of the neighboring plot, Muhammad Liaqat. The attack also followed the Christian community’s winning of consent from a district coordinator for the church’s construction. 

However, a Muslim villager has claimed that community members were successful in getting a court to issue an injunction against the church’s construction. 

Gulzar’s family built a wall and door on the construction site on Feb. 2. But later that night, about 15 Muslims descended on the property to tear down the wall. When Gulzar and his family tried to stop the destruction, they were attacked. 

“It was Sunday. We spent the whole day building the wall and finished at 7 p.m.,” Waseem told UCANews.com. “We only wanted to secure our property against any forceful occupation. Three hours later, we heard a crowd chanting on our doorstep. As we tried to explain our stance, someone resorted to aerial firing. My brothers were the next targets.”

According to the U.K.-based Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, both the Muslim and Christian communities in the area have accused each other of launching the attack and two different police reports have been filed related to the altercation. 

One Muslim villager told UCANews that some in the Christian community had “threatened to kill us” if they were stopped from constructing the church. 

The Muslim villager, Muhammad Aslam, claimed that the shooting of the two men was done by their “partners” in order to file a “false” police case against the Muslims trying to stop the church’s construction. 

Waseem told UCANews that although his brother was released from the hospital on Monday, he is unable to communicate. 

“One of my cousins is recovering from the wound of a bullet that slightly hit his skull,” Waseem said. “My uncle was also injured with an ax. We are not rich enough to pursue lengthy court cases. Our property is the only hope we had.”

Pakistan ranks as the fifth worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2020 World Watch List. 

Open Doors, which operates in over 60 countries, reports that there are dozens of attacks that occur each year against churches and cemeteries in Pakistan….

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