On April 15, 2018, terrorists mercilessly murdered two Christians as they were departing a church service in Quetta, Pakistan.
Quetta is the capital city of the Balochistan province. The unidentified gunmen were riding motorbikes when they reportedly indiscriminately began firing at a group of Christians on the outside of the place of worship. Besides the two fatalities, three other innocent bystanders were injured.
The Islamic State organization’s local franchise boastfully claimed responsibility for the brutal attack. Quetta official Javad Anwar Shawani informed the Agence France-Presse, AFP, that approximately 500 protesters obstructed a road when they placed the bodies of the two victims in the middle of it. He said, “We are negotiating with them to make them disperse and bury” the deceased.
The latest attack on Christians in Pakistan comes on the heels of an Easter shooting in the turbulent country, which also occurred in the Balochistan Province close to the border with Afghanistan. On this sacred day, as three men and a woman, who were all from the same family, were traversing in a rickshaw through Quetta, armed men riding motorcycles began shooting them. In addition to the four fatalities, a pre-teen girl was also hurt during this act of violence.
The slain were visiting family members for Easter. When the murder happened, they were located in a Christian suburb of Quetta. A Pakistani legislator, Khalil Jorge Bhutto, stated,
“Our brothers and sisters were visiting their brother in-law’s house for Easter, An hour later, they were martyred by the attackers,” Pakistani legislator Khalil Jorge Bhutto said in reaction. “Enough is enough. Now is the time we all should stand up against these terrorists and killers.”
ISIS also claimed responsibility for the Easter massacre. The terrorist organization stated a “covert unit” of its fighters “managed to target a number of the combatant Christians.” In a statement, ISIS bragged that its militants shot the innocent Christians “with a pistol, which resulted in the killing of four of them, and all praise is due to Allah.”
Of course, the targeting of Christians by ISIS in the Muslim-majority country is not new. Events last year made it painfully clear that it is not safe to be a Christian in Pakistan.
In December 2017, as worshipers were about to take communion at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, at least two armed men dressed in suicide vests killed nine people and injured more than a dozen others.
Remembering the December service, Sohail Yousuf, an attendee of the church, said, “We bolted all the doors and were praying that God would protect each of us. Then a suicide bomber blew himself up at the main door. The explosion shattered the door and injured many inside. When some rushed outside, they were injured by gunfire as the terrorists were on the church lawn. But soon the situation was brought under control by the volunteer church security guards and police present there.”
Like the other attacks, the Islamic State maintained the terrorist organization was responsible for the senseless act.
Christians purportedly comprise less than two percent of Pakistan’s population. Most of the 200 million people living in the country practice the Muslim faith. Christians’ minority status in Pakistan has long made them a target for violence and discrimination at the hands of Islamic extremists.
Open Doors USA, an oppression watchdog, named Pakistan as the fifth worst country in the world for Christian persecution on its 2018 World Watch List. Concerned citizens around the world have called out Pakistan for its biased blasphemy laws. Muslims allegedly utilize these unfair regulations to settle personal grievances with religious minorities. Open Doors USA reported that “Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws target religious minorities but affect Christians the most, especially those who seek to evangelize.”
While all Pakistani Christians suffer from institutionalized discrimination, Open Doors USA declared, “Churches that are engaged in outreach and youth work face the worst of the persecution.” Jobs considered “shameful” and “dirty” are often earmarked for those who practice Christianity. In fact, numerous Christians reportedly resort to bonded labor.
The chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry, revealed in a statement, “Christians find themselves at the worst end of society with millions stuck in slavery or undertaking sewerage and cleaning jobs commensurate with their untouchable status.”
Pray for the Christians in Pakistan who face the possibility of violence every day because of the faith they hold dear.
~ 1776 Christian