On September 22 two suicide bomb blasts ripped through the 130-year-old All Saints Church after Sunday mass in Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar. At least 80 people lost their lives, including women and children, and more than 100 others were left injured in what is being called the deadliest attack on Christians in the history of Pakistan.
Carbonated.TV spoke with community leaders and members about their reactions and what the attacks meant for relations between Muslims and Pakistan’s Christian minority in a country that was originally founded for minority Muslims in India (Watch Video).
Minority groups, including Christians, Shia Muslims and the Ahmadiyya community (Muslim sect) have been prime targets for terrorist attacks in recent years.
Even though the terrorist organization Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) denied involvement in the blast, it has carried out similar attacks on minorities in the past. Consequently, people in Pakistan do not support a dialogue -proposed by current government - with the militant organization.
Not yet fully recovered from a previous attack in March this year, when a mob torched more than 100 homes in the city of Lahore, Christians across Pakistan are outraged. Protestors poured onto the streets in the days following the violent attack and Pakistani Muslims have also condemned the atrocious persecution of minorities.
Elvin Gill (in video) represents the Pentecostal Church in Karachi. Interestingly, during Pakistan’s landmark elections in May 2013, Gill worked for a right-wing Muslim political party to help them gather Christian votes.
He told local newspaper, The News, that he joined Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians. Often accused of being a ‘Muslim convert’ Gill stands by his reasons.
“Because that’s the only way you can help reduce the tensions between these communities and help them understand each other.”
According to Gill, incidents like the one in Peshawar are a major setback for those who are trying to improve relations between the communities.