Call for greater protection of Pakistani Christians
Churches and organisations around the UK call for greater protection for Christian minorities following the suicide attack on a church in Pakistan.
Two suicide bombers detonated their devices outside All Saints' Church as worshippers were leaving Sunday Mass, killing 80 people and leaving more than 100 injured.
It is believed to be the worst attack on Pakistani Christians in years, with many of those killed being children.
One victim, Shalom Nazir, lost his parents and older sister in the attack, telling Barnabas Fund: "I came [to church] in the morning with my whole family for prayers and worship but returned home with no one."
Nationwide protests are taking place against the Government and their failure to protect Pakistan's religious minorities.
Local authorities have been accused of not following up on previous bomb threats or taking any action to protect the community preceding the attack.
UK human rights organisation, the Global Minorities Alliance (GMA), is concerned about the lack of protection for religious minorities in Pakistan and is assisting victims.
Shahid Khan, vice-chairperson of the GMA, said: "It is a security lapse where the government has failed to protect the minorities. There are so many people [still] missing and there is no help for the deeply-shocked Christian community."
GMA's chief executive, Manassi Bernard, is also shocked at the lack of medical help for the many injured saying: "There are not enough doctors available in the local Lady Reading Hospital, no help desk provided and the Christian community has no one to get help from."
Similar comments have come from a spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales who said that the Pakistani Government must do more to protect Pakistani Christians.
He said: "Christians show great courage in giving witness to their faith in Pakistan and Sunday's attack is a terrible demonstration of the threat facing Christians and other minorities from terrorists and their violent ideology.
"The Pakistani Government has an obligation to ensure that Pakistani Christians and other minorities are protected from further atrocities."
Release International, another organisation supporting the Christian community in Pakistan, appealed to Christians in the UK to stand by their Pakistani brothers and sisters.
Paul Robinson, Release Chief Executive, said: "Pakistan must take immediate and effective action to protect its Christian minority, and we, as believers in the UK and Ireland, must stand in prayer with our persecuted brothers and sisters in Pakistan and around the world, who are being attacked and killed simply because of their faith."
On Tuesday, British Pakistani Christians gathered outside the Pakistan High Commission in London to express their frustration over the lack of security for believers in Pakistan. The protest was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association, which later handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street asking that the UK government step in to help Christians in Pakistan.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon has asked Anglicans around the world to pray for Pakistan this coming Sunday.
In a letter to the Anglican Communion's Primates, he wrote, "Messages of condolences have been coming in from around the Communion, and I write to ask you to consider requesting your parishes and dioceses to remember in prayer those who died or were bereaved and those who were injured or live in fear because of the tragedy."