Pakistan Pastor Shot And Killed; Christians Mourn

Monday, January 31, 2022

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

ISLAMABAD (Worthy News) - Christians in Pakistan have been plunged into mourning after a 75-year-old pastor was shot and killed in the northwestern city of Peshawar amid rising Islamic extremism in the country.

William Siraj of Shaheed-e-All Saints Church of the Church of Pakistan, a denomination of Methodist and Anglican churches, was shot twice Sunday while he and his colleague were driving home from church, Christians and police said.

Two attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on their car on the Peshawar’s ring-road, killing Pastor Siraj instantly, according to police investigators.

His colleague, Reverend Patrick Naeem, 55, sustained a bullet wound but was stable. A third church leader in the car was unharmed, the Church of Pakistan said.

Naeem was reportedly discharged from the hospital after being treated for while Pastor Siraj’s body was reportedly handed over to his family for burial.

Footage showed emergency services removing the pastor from the car as people chanted “Long live Jesus Christ” while carrying his body on a bed through the streets to a house.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting in a city still reeling from one of the deadliest attacks on Christians in the country.

In 2013, at least 81 Christians were killed after two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a church of the Church of Pakistan denomination in Peshawar.

About 400 worshipers exchanged greetings after the Sunday service at the 130-year-old All Saints Church when the two bombers reportedly launched the attack.

Following the latest shootings, Bishop Azad Marshall from the Church of Pakistan demanded "justice and protection of Christians from the Government of Pakistan."

There are about 70,000 Christians in Peshawar, according to Christian estimates. The community accounts for about 2 percent of the 180 million people in Pakistan.

While Muslim minorities, including Shias and Ahmaddiyas, face Sunni terror groups in Pakistan, Christians have often been singled out for Islamic terrorism.

Critics say Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws have also been attributed to an atmosphere of hatred towards Christians and other minorities in the Islamic nation.