Pakistan police officer barges into church during Sunday service, assaults pastor after receiving noise complaint

A pastor holds a large crucifix as he and fellow Christians stage a street protest in Pakistan over the persecution of minority Christians in the Muslim-dominated country.Reuters

Based on what turned out to be a false complaint, a police officer barged into a church in Lahore, Pakistan last Sunday, verbally abusing the Christian worshippers and beating the lead pastor when the latter asked what he was doing inside the church.

Head Constable Amir Abdullah entered the United Christian Church on Sunday morning and brutally assaulted pastor Riaz Rehmat after the police received a complaint about the alleged high noise level from the church's sound system, the Pakistan Christian Post reports.

It later turned out that the complaint was false and that the church was not misusing its loudspeaker and creating undue noise outside as alleged.

The unprovoked attack on their pastor inside their church prompted the congregation to stage a protest rally in the street.

Nasir Saeed, director of U.K.-based charity Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLASS), which helps persecuted Christians in Pakistan, denounced the "shameful" police assault.

"The police hardly care about the Christians' religious sentiments and often violate their right of religious freedom," Saeed said.

Following the Christian group's complaint, Police Superintendent Amara Athar suspended Abdullah and ordered an investigation on the incident. She also promised to investigate the man who had leveled the false noise complaint on the Christian church.

Meanwhile, a prominent member of the Pakistani Parliament criticised the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for its alleged failure to protect religious minorities.

Pakistan's People's Party Vice President and Senator Sherry Rehman denounced recent violence that targeted Christian communities, including a mob attack against a Christian ice cream vendor for selling "unclean merchandise to Muslim children," according to The Tribune Express.

"Pakistan cannot continue to tolerate continual religious persecution of its minorities. They are not second-class citizens and should not be treated as such." Rehman said.

The senator recalled the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore where 73 Christians, mostly women and children, were killed. At least 29 of those who died were children.

He said government inaction amounts to "tacit approval" of the crimes.

Pakistan is listed at number 8 on the list of nations where Christians face the most severe persecution, based from Open Doors USA's 2015 World Watch List report.