RELIGIOUS and political leaders have joined with public figures
around the world to condemn the Pakistani Taliban's massacre this
week of at least 132 children and nine staff at the Peshawar Army
Even the Taliban in Afghanistan - normally close allies with the
Pakistani group - described the attack as un-Islamic and said that
they were sending condolences to the families of the victims.
In the region, the Rt Revd Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, was reported
as suggesting that Christians should cancel their Christmas
celebrations to show solidarity with the victims, many of whom are
Muslim. He said: "This is an inhuman act, and the Christian
community stands with the grieved families. All the churches will
keep praying for the victims and will visit the families."
Insar Gohar, the youth co-ordinator for the diocese of Peshawar,
part of the Church of Pakistan, contacted friends in the Oxford
diocese to urge them to pray for everyone caught up in the killings
and for the "protection of our city and for peace in our
He said "The whole of the environment in Peshawar is under
terror and under grief. This reminded the Christians of Peshawar of
last year's attack on All Saints' Church, and they are crying with
the parents of today's deceased children."
At his General Audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, Pope
Francis asked pilgrims to pray to the Lord to receive the deceased
in peace, bring comfort to their families, and "to convert the
hearts of the violent who do not hold back, even before
The Nobel Prize-winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai,
who was shot by the Taliban in 2012, said that she was "heartbroken
by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror. . . I, along with
millions of others around the world, mourn these children - my
brothers and sisters - but we will never be defeated."
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Area Bishop for Wakefield, who has
strong links with communities in Pakistan, said: "The whole world
is in mourning for the children and teachers of the Army School in
Peshawar. We can hardly begin to imagine what it must be like for
the families of those who were massacred so callously.
"The Bishop of Peshawar emailed me on the day to say: 'We all
here in Peshawar are totally broken. Extremely sad, and feeling
"Our prayers are for the people of Pakistan and especially the
families who have lost loved ones. Our hope is that this tragedy is
a turning point and that those who commit such horrendous acts will
stop and see that nothing is achieved by such awful events. We pray
for all those who are seeking to bring an end to violence in
In a message to the Pakistani community in Leicester, the Bishop
of Leicester, the Rt Revd Timothy Stevens, said: "This attack has
caused great pain both in Peshawar and around the world. Here in
the city we share your deep grief for young lives so tragically
lost. Please be assured of the thoughts and prayers of the
Christian community at this most difficult time for you."
Addressing the Syrian Orthodox Church, Acton, on Thursday, the
Prince of Wales said that the attack was a "sickening example" of
the "sacrilege" of violence perpetrated in the name of
It was also, he said, "a horrific reminder that Muslims
themselves are the victims of the violent intolerance of the
extremists. The many, many families in Pakistan who have lost
children, other relatives, friends and colleagues in the massacre
are in my prayers this afternoon."
There is to be a prayer vigil for the victims at St John's,
Waterloo, in London, on Saturday at 11 a.m.