Grangemouth minister forgives Pakistani bombers who killed mother

Published 14 October 2013  |  
(AP)
Pakistani Christian worshippers, some of them who survived Sunday's suicide bombing, pray during a special mass for the victims of the bombing, at the Church where the attack took place, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. It was the deadliest attack ever in this country against members of their faith.

A Church of Scotland minister who lost his mother and other close relatives in the Peshawar church bombing last month says he forgives the killers.

Reverend Aftab Gohar, minister at Abbotsgrange Church in Grangemouth, flew back to Pakistan to be with family in the wake of the suicide bombing in which as many as 122 people died.

The attack on All Saints Church took place on 22 September as worshippers were leaving Sunday Mass and was the deadliest against Pakistan's Christian minority community.

All Saints is Mr Gohar's old family church and the bombing resulted in the death of his 79-year-old mother, Iqbal, his 11-year-old nephew, nine-year-old niece, two uncles, three cousins, and two of his closest friends.

Mr Gohar resumes full duties at Abbotsgrange this Sunday.

He said: "It is wrong what these people did but I forgive them. We pray that they may one day develop the wisdom to understand that it is not right to kill children and other innocent people. There were 125 children in Sunday school that day. My sister was teaching there. Forgiving is what we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I forgive".

Despite the attack, Mr Gohar stressed that most Muslims had been respectful and kindly in the church's 130-year existence in Pakistan and that many had helped in the aftermath of the attack, taking victims to hospital, helping to prepare graves, and preparing food for the injured and their relatives.

"The idea that all Muslims hate Christians is simply not true," he said.

Mr Gohar's 23-year-old niece, Farah Javed, is paralysed from the waist down following the attack and needs treatment that the local hospital is not able to provide.

The family has been faced with the challenge of gathering large sums of money to cover the cost of medical treatment for relatives.

Mr Gohar said many of those seriously injured in the attack were in urgent need of more medical assistance.

The Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan, Convener of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council said: "It is very moving to hear the words of Rev Aftab Gohar. These heartless killings happened in Pakistan, but forgiveness makes the whole world better.

"The Church of Scotland is richer for having a minister of the stature of Aftab among us. He and his family are entitled to count on the love and prayers of us all."

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