By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
ISLAMABAD PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Angry Muslims attacked the Church in Mardan near Peshawar following noon prayers last Friday.
ASSIST News Service Pakistan Correspondent and human rights activist Shamim Masih said the Sept. 21 violence was as a result of the anti-Islamic video that has stirred riots and protests throughout Pakistan.
Bishop Peter Majeed
According to church pastor Bishop Peter Majeed, whom Masih interviewed on the phone, thousands of people broke into the church compound, burnt the church, school books, Bibles, and copies of the Jesus film.
Majeed said the rioters destroyed 27 homes on the church compound, including the residences of two priests and the school principal.
Displaced families are living with their friends and relatives, and are in need of help to replace what they lost.
Masih said he learned that the militants tried to set the pastor's son, Zeeshan, on fire. In addition, items of value to the militants--computers, office equipment, and chairs were stolen.
Innocent Pakistani Christians had nothing to do with the production or promotion of the video. Masih said most know little about it, yet they are paying the price simply for being Christian in a nation dominated by Islamic extremists - a country where government officials and moderate Muslims fear to talk to protect minority's rights on their behalf.
The Diocese of Peshawar, where the attack took place, provides education and health services to the local community - Muslim and Christian alike - and provided substantial support to victims of floods and a major earthquake in recent years, regardless of their religious affiliation.
Masih commented, "Where's the media outrage? When a Quran is burned or a film considered blasphemous appears on You Tube, Muslims respond with global riots and protests. But When Christian holy books are destroyed, or a church is burned, there is silence. Where is the Chief Justice of Pakistan?"
Masih said Majeed is asking Christians around the world to pray for God's protection for Pakistani believers. He is also requests assistance to rebuild the church building as soon as possible.