A church building in eastern Pakistan has been set ablaze following a row over the use of its loudspeakers during Muslim prayer times. The Free Apostolic Church in the Baath neighborhood in Lahore was conducting a healing prayer session under tents outside the church in the evening on Jan. 7. Sardar Musthaq Gill, a Christian lawyer and head of the Legal Evangelical Association Development, told UCANEWS that Muslim villagers asked Pastor Yaqoob Saroya to turn the loud speaker off, saying that it was the time for Islamic prayers but he refused. Gill said that night someone broke into the church building, set furniture, tents and other stuff on fire and escaped, leaving behind several burnt copies of the Bible. Soba Saroya, brother of the local pastor who lodged a police complaint, said local Muslims were cooperating with church officials to help identify the culprits. There no tension between the two communities, and both sides came together on Sunday to settle the matter amicably, Saroya said.
The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (PCBC) has condemned the arson attack on the church. “This is the first incident of attack on our place of worship this year. The government should immediately apprehend those responsible and urge people against taking the law into their own hands,” said NCJP director, Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani. He said he has always been careful about Mass timings clashing with the Muslim call for prayers. Nonetheless, “both sides should respect another’s religious practices,” he added. (Source: UCAN)