Peshawar pastor’s killing sparks social media outrage

    The targeted killing of lay pastor William Siraj on Jan 30, has sparked outrage on social media platforms such as Twitter, where Anglican Bishops led the barrage with a series of scathing responses.

    “I join Bishop Azad in condemning this abhorrent act, and I pray for justice and safety for the Christian community in Pakistan. Please pray for the family of Pastor William Siraj, all who mourn him, and for Rev Patrick Naeem,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote on Twitter.

    He referred to 70-year-old Siraj who died from a headshot in the car of Reverend Patrick Naeem, who is recovering from a bullet injury to his hand. Both were leaving Shaheedain (martyrs) e-All Saints Church on the Ring Road following Sunday prayers in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Jan. 30.

    Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London also joined Church of Pakistan President Bishop Azad Marshall in condemning the killing.

    “I join my brother @BishopAzadM  in condemning this heinous attack on #ChurchOfPakistan clergy in Peshawar. This and similar attacks must be looked at within context of  @PMounstephen   @CPIndRev  and  @Refcemi  work on the phenomenon of attacks on Christian communities around the world,” he stated on his twitter handle.

    The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun shared a similar tweet.

    “Assuring Bishop Azad of our prayers @SouthwarkCofE  for our brothers and sisters in Christ in solidarity with his call for justice and protection for Christians in Pakistan praying also for freedom of religious belief with respect for dignity and safety for minorities everywhere,” he stated.

    Androulla Kaminara, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, urged authorities to protect minorities.

    “Absolutely shocked about killing pastor &injuring of another in #Peshawar. @EUPakistan  – #EU v. strong condemnation of such violent acts.  Quail-I-Azam said “minorities must feel that they will have fair play and justice”  #ProtectMinorities,” she stated in Jan. 31 tweet.

    In views of Christian Turner British High Commissioner to Pakistan, minority rights are the most important part of the foundation of Pakistan.

    Senator Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also condemn the attack on two priests. “Terrorism that targets anyone, especially for their faith, is heinous and must be fought against with the full force of clear,concerted policy and state power. No compromise, no equivocation,” she stated in a tweet.

    PPP’s Senator Palwasha Khan agreed.

    PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz questioned the current regime.

    Michelle Chaudhry, president of the Cecil Chaudhry and Iris Foundation, expressed her disappointment at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

    “I have been waiting for a statement from our premier since last night. Even our minority parliamentarians are silent. They should have caused a ruckus at the positions they are holding. Even the National Commission for Human Rights and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the attack,” she told Kross Konnection.

    “Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister for minorities, gave his life but addressed sensitive issues like blasphemy laws. Meanwhile our hearts cry for Church of Peshawar.”

    Bhatti was assassinated by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, on March 2, 2011, outside his mother’s home in Islamabad. In the years since Bhatti’s death, violent extremism has increased in Pakistan, and religious minorities remain a target, particularly Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs.

    In September 2021, unidentified gunmen shot dead Sikh hakim (medicinal practitioner) Satnam Singh in Pakistan’s militancy-hit northwest.

    Five Ahmadis have been gunned down in the last two years in the provincial capital.

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