Children attacked, church wrecked for disturbing prayers with carols

Published: January 13, 2012

The Christian community did not register an FIR for the attack, instead apologised to the attackers, for the fear of consequences. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: A group of people praying in a mosque were so irked by the voices of children singing carols at a nearby church that they decided to silence them—by attacking their house of worship.

On Saturday evening, four men attacked the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church in New Mianwali Colony in Manghopir.

A young boy, Samson, was standing outside the church as his friends sang carols on the microphone inside. The children were preparing for mass to be celebrated the next day which was a Sunday. The loud cheers became terrified whimpers when suddenly four men, one of them with an axe, barged into the church.

The men slapped the children, wrecked the furniture, smashed the microphone on to the floor and kicked the altar. “You are disturbing our prayers. We can’t pray properly. How dare you use the mike and speakers?” Samson quoted, the men as saying.

The commotion inside the church made Samson call out for help. Three men ran away but one was caught by the residents who beat him up before the police reached the spot.

The incident is now a week old, but the attack frightened the community so much that all of the nine churches in the area were locked up.

“The day after the attack people did not come for mass,” said Lubna, the daughter of Pastor Daniel. “They came to our home to ask about what happened but did not go to church.” The pastor was away.

“The children are so scared that they don’t even want to talk about the attack,” Lubna said as she made sure that all the windows and doors of the church were tightly shut.

Inside the church, a Christmas tree stood in the corner and ribbons and balloons adorned the wall. But in the middle, the broken chair, microphone and altar with footprints served as a grim reminder of the incident.

“The attackers claimed that the sound from the loudspeakers was disturbing their prayers,” said a former councilor and resident of New Mianwali Colony, Akram Khokhar.

The residents did not register an FIR. A priest at another church in the area, Fr Arif M Shera, explained why. “Though it was our house of worship which was attacked and our children who were beaten up, we apologised to the other party,” he said. “For the sake of our lives we said that it was our fault.”

MPA Saleem Khokhar said that he informed the home minister about the incident. “The people don’t want to register an FIR because they are scared of the consequences.”

Meanwhile, a prayer leader of the mosque, Muhammad Usman, brought the leaders of both the communities together to talk to them. If the worshippers had problems with the church, they should have talked instead of attacking the church, he said. But he held the children responsible for what happened. According to him, the speakers were put on the roof of the church and the children sang loudly “on purpose” to irritate the people who came to the mosque. “It was their fault,” insisted Usman. “A number of ulema in the area complained that the loud music and songs were disturbing their prayers. They did not listen when some boys went to stop them.” However, he evaded the question when asked about the attack. He admitted this much that the men who attacked the mosque could have behaved differently.

Usman said that a similar dispute erupted seven years ago over the use of a loud speaker. It was decided then that the churchgoers would use speakers and the microphone from 8 am to 11 am on Sundays only, when mass is celebrated. They were not allowed to use the speakers otherwise because prayers would be disturbed.

Around 400 Christian families live amid Pakhtun families in New Mianwali Colony. The residents said that another similar dispute seven years ago ended up with the desecration of the church. The attackers torched the cross and abused the worshippers. “Things seemed to have cooled down for the time being, but we are being vigilant now,” said Fr Shera. “We won’t let this happen again.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (41)

  • usmanx
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:19AM

    please provide this church and these people security. Recommend

  • furqan
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:34PM

    conspiracy against muslims, very fishy report “If the worshippers had problems with the church, they should have talked instead of attacking the church, he said. But he held the children responsible for what happened.” dual comments in the report.

    Recommend

  • Sajid
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:44PM

    Do these jerks know how much of a disturbance do their hate-inciting Firday khutbas are to the people around?

    Recommend

  • Pindiwal
    Jan 13, 2012 - 1:40PM

    Strange that an issue which should’ve invited a lot of comments, remains the least commented!Recommend

  • Uzair
    Jan 13, 2012 - 1:56PM

    I can understand the attackers’ anger… sensible people feel the same about loud chanting and incantations coming from Mosques at all hours of the day (and night), other than prayer calls. If the mullahs want to spread their voices loudly in the mohallas, then why can’t other citizens do the same?

    Recommend

  • Lubna
    Jan 13, 2012 - 2:02PM

    I would like to apologise to our christian brothers and sisters for this. I am truly ashamed to be part of this seemingly crazy majority with a chip on their shoulders.

    Recommend

  • Sohail Khurshid
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:20PM

    Haywire bearded hags strike yet again!! Very well done my self righteous and retarded brethren!

    Recommend

  • Aryabhat
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:39PM

    I was waiting for someone to say this was a CIA/RAW/Mossad conspiracy to defame Pakistan and its Muslim citizens!

    No points for guessing what would have happened if Christians would have attacked a Mosque for load speakers or disturbing their mass in Pakistan! Why Pakistan, even if this would have happened in Switzerland, there would have loud protests from everyone, including Pakistan’s now favourite Khan!

    Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:47PM

    So the brave mard-e-momin couldn’t muster the courage to attack little children till they had an axe in their hands.Good thing that they were victorious in holding the children responsible for all that had happened.
    No more shall the evil children provoke the pious, pure and the righteous.

    Recommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:49PM

    @furqan:

    conspiracy against muslims, very fishy
    report

    If the people are naturally so hateful, what’s the need for a conspiracy?

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:09PM

    This is the proof of negative influence by Mullahs. That is not a reaction by any child unless it’s taught. If it was only one child, that’s be one thing and debatable of its origins. Odds aren’t good for a group to hold such a mindset unless it’s from the same source, at the same time. That rules out a lot of possible sources.

    Recommend

  • zehra
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:28PM

    i can easily beleeve this as this is the level of tolerance we have in our soicety. i can say the same of the chants and prayers on loudspeakers from mosques other than azaan as disturbing, it is v common to have sessions of milad , sermon and other chants during the week , irresepctive of the time? just cause i believe in what is being chanted it is ok for them to chant, but when others do the same of their faith then it is noise? shame on police for not rtegiseting fir, shame on the men who atacjked the childeren. shame on all of us fro promoting such intolernace.

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:48PM

    So beating up kids is going to get you into heaven? Think again.

    Recommend

  • Kashif Alvi
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:33PM

    Why is it that the most bizarre news alwsys come from Pakistan.
    I have worked in hospitals all over UK…..do you know that in every hospital there is a faith room for muslims to pray. In one hospital, the hospital church area had been very kindly allowed to be used for Friday prayers. In my town, we had our Eid Party in the local church hall.

    Recommend

  • ali
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:42PM

    Only a mosque has a right to broadcast the call to prayer. A church and its members have no right to broadcast anything. The church is always wrong and a muslim is NEVER wrong.

    Recommend

  • let there be peace
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:46PM

    Try to imagine through the eyes of a small non-Muslim child, in a very relaxed mood, when suddenly out of nowhere a man in semi-arab dress; with long beard and without mustache comes shouting with an axe in hand. What a nightmare!

    Recommend

  • harish
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:46PM

    @Kashif
    that is the case in india too….at all government functions we have multi-faith prayers that include verses from all religions..
    it would seem to a layman that only muslims have a problem with all other religions…

    Recommend

  • Antanu
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:08PM

    Islamophobes blaming Islam for Pakistan’s problems. Muslims always live in peace with everyone else. Story seems fishy.

    Recommend

  • Rayhan Khan
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:22PM

    As a Muslim, I apologize for this act. This is not what Prophet(SAW) has taught us.

    Recommend

  • steve
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:42PM

    Is Child Abuse legal in Pakistan? Why do the family have to press charges – why are not charges automatically brought? Does Islam allow Child Abuse?

    Why were not these men arrested on the spot and thrown in jail. This isn’t about religion. Anyone who beats a child should be in jail. I don’t care what they did to disturb you. If you as an adult respond with beating a child – you are the evil one and society does not need people like you.

    If the police do not arrest these evil men, the police are just as guilty.

    Recommend

  • harish
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:44PM

    today in india muslims are living peacefuly, but due to their very high reproduction rate they will become a majority one day, and i guess hindus will lose all rights including right to life when that happens.

    Recommend

  • Truth From Pakistan
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:57PM

    If this incident has actually happened, I feel we have totally digressed with actual message of Islam. Something like this was never done or allowed by Holy Prophet (PBUH). We have made mock of ourself by doing everything wrong and contrary to the value system…..Alas !

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jan 13, 2012 - 9:31PM

    Only in Pakistan can you beat up Christian kids and walk away with no punishment — you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Recommend

  • Shane Hashmi
    Jan 14, 2012 - 3:36AM

    Islam gives full protection to minorities living in an Islamic society. The matter should have been taken up by the local MPA. Why would they need an FIR to report some problem? The use of loud speakers in mosques should be banned except for Azan and Juma Khutbah. I am with my Christian brothers and sisters on this ugly incident and hope and pray that justice will prevail some day in my country.

    Recommend

  • Radial
    Jan 14, 2012 - 6:31AM

    loudspeakers should be banned in mosques. after all there were no loudspeakers in 7th century arabia. but you know what there was in 7th century arabia? christians. lots of them. and their religion and ways were respected. so 21st century pakistan is worse than 7th century arabia. i dont think you can say that about any other place on earth.Recommend

  • Observer
    Jan 14, 2012 - 6:45AM

    There is no future for Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmedis etc. minorities in Pakistan. Sad, but true. The minority population has dropped from about 25% after the Partition to about 4% now. Not a good statistic if one is concerned about secularism, equal rights and freedom of religion. Are shias and other non-Sunni sects next?

    Recommend

  • Paki
    Jan 14, 2012 - 7:56AM

    Founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared: “Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith of any kind will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship.”

    If only he had known how wrong he was! Pakistani Muslims have put their founder to shame. They have shown they have no respect for him or for what he said.

    Recommend

  • BS.Detecter
    Jan 14, 2012 - 8:09AM

    @Cautious:

    Only in Pakistan can you beat up
    Christian kids and walk away with no
    punishment — you should be ashamed of
    yourselves.

    While i am strictly such behavior and i am sure every True Pakistan condemns such a act.i believe you have gone quite overboard. You seems to be suffering from amnesia which is the probable reason forgetting what happend and still happening in your country the so called shining india., for example the Orissa massacre of 500+ Christians and Muslims in Gujarat, Kashmir, Bihar, Operation Bluestar on Sikhs.

    Zip your agenda-based comments Recommend

  • Lauren
    Jan 14, 2012 - 9:31AM

    @Shane Hashmi. Sure. islam gives minorities protection from equal rights, religious freedom, safety, etc.

    Recommend

  • harish
    Jan 14, 2012 - 10:23AM

    @BS detector:
    u are sprouting what you are claiming to detect. The total dead in orissa riots was less than 20, though upto a thousand were temporarily displaced.

    The rioters were caught and punished, remember. India is not a fundamentalist state.

    Lies wont get you far,try hard to accept the truth.

    Recommend

  • John B
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:05PM

    So then, no Christmas carol singing in PAK ? Only stampeding concerts allowed ? I am confused. Can anyone help me.

    Recommend

  • naseer
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:27PM

    It is pointless to say anything because you are hitting your head against the brick wall. The whole society in that county is rotten. Zia and before that ZAB sowed this seed now this tree of hate and venom is bearing fruite in abundance. Good luck.
    Naseer

    Recommend

  • Attiq Ahmed
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:30PM

    Shameful day hideous news.Recommend

  • R S JOHAR
    Jan 14, 2012 - 12:44PM

    @Antanu:
    Have a heart my dear, this is not work of some aliens or a cooked up story by Chirstians to blame Muslims. I agree Muslims are a peaceful community in many countries including India but I am afraid not Pakistan where they kill their fellow Muslims and all minorities are most unsafe in this country.

    Recommend

  • Iron hand
    Jan 14, 2012 - 4:15PM

    @Antanu: New to planet earth are you?

    Recommend

  • Yoda
    Jan 14, 2012 - 4:41PM

    @Radial: Yes, you can say that about 21st century Saudi Arabia too.

    Recommend

  • Waqas
    Jan 14, 2012 - 6:51PM

    there is no rights for the minorites in Pakistan, we all the minorities should leave pakistan asap, this country has nothing to give us and will never ever!
    As long as pakistan remains islamic, there will be no freedom for minorities/atheist/seculars/liberals, and we should adopt (their) islamic lifestyle wich unables us to be free!

    islamic boundries are very small, very small in tolerance, very small in freedom, very small in granting right,

    imagine if christians attacked mosque whole muslim community will raise their voices, but when christians are attacked (daily) no muslim speaks out!

    Recommend

  • Modasr
    Jan 15, 2012 - 2:04AM

    This is what pakistan has come to….,that is why im not going back to pakistan ever again until it is worth living for human.

    Recommend

  • FromCham
    Jan 15, 2012 - 5:50PM

    The most intolerant and bizarre country where conspiracy theories are rife every second….
    I had the unfortunate privilege of serving as my country’s diplomat for 3 years

    Recommend

  • amir
    Jan 17, 2012 - 10:01PM

    they do so bcz they know they r in majority n nothing will happen to them
    by
    pushing christains cz they r less in num n poor n helpless
    but
    forgets tht the day GOD will answer them …… it will be very hard to bare…. think of that dayy…… before doing such actsssssss

    Recommend

  • khan
    Jan 19, 2012 - 9:44PM

    @furqan: Islam teaches us to respect other people and their faiths. The reason pastor blamed the kids is bcuz they r scared for their lives by living in a country like Pakistan, which was made in the name of Islam but we practise nothing Islam preaches.Recommend

More in Sindh