CHURCHGOERS in Peshawar, Pakistan, were relieved this week after a suicide-attack deadline imposed last Friday by jihadists passed without incident.
There are around 50,000 Christians living in the city. They had been warned of the attacks by letters saying: “We will write a new history with the blood of the infidels, and our suicide-attackers are ready to attack the churches.”
The letters told residents to “abandon the infidel religion, that is Christianity, embrace Islam, and become Muslim. Otherwise, after next Friday August 10, your colony will be ruined. You will be responsible for the death and destruction of your families.”
A priest at St John’s Cathedral, Peshawar, the Revd Joseph John, received a letter threatening “only death for the communities who share similar religion with America and are his agents. Our mosques and children are being martyred at American orders, therefore the Churches will also be wiped out from the face of the earth.”
“The threat has gone away, thanks be to God,” the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Mano Rumalshah, said on Wednesday. He said that the reason for the threats, hinted at in the letter, was a reaction to remarks last month by the United States Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, who had threatened to bomb the holy places of Medina and Mecca if a “dirty bomb” was exploded in the US.
“Holy places are holy. You don’t make that kind of statement. We are the ones who suffer,” Bishop Mano said.
“Killing is not the issue. It is the suicide [bombing] culture that has never happened for centuries that is the issue.” He asked for prayers.