Christians in Pakistan Fear Fundamentalists´ Vengeance

Because of Government´s Support of U.S

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LAHORE, Pakistan, SEPT. 23, 2001 ( The Catholic Church in Pakistan held a National Day of Prayer today, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The Fides news agency reported that the initiative took place at a time when Christians in Pakistan feel vulnerable and abandoned.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf´s decision to support the United States in the war against terrorism has unleashed protests by Muslim fundamentalists, and the Christian minority fears it will become the target of vengeance of fanatics, as has happened several times.

Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore asked parish priests to speak about the current tense local situation and to emphasize the gravity of the international situation.

Pakistan has 144 million people, 97% of whom are Muslim. The 3% comprising religious minorities, includes Christians and Hindus.

John Nasir, a resident in Lahore, said Christians are worried about «what might happen in case of a clash between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The fanatics in Pakistan would like to translate it into a Christian-Muslim conflict in Pakistan.»

In 1991, when Allied forces attacked Iraq, a convent was ransacked in Rawalpindi. In 1992, after the destruction of the Babri mosque in India, Muslim fanatics in Pakistan burnt some churches in Karachi, along with a number of Hindu temples.

The entire Christian village of Shantinagar in northern Punjab was burnt to the ground in 1998. In 2000, Muslim fanatics burnt a Hindu temple and a few houses, belonging to Hindus, in Dalbandin, near Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, accusing the local community of desecrating the Koran.

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