They’re angry, and they’re not content to merely pray for peace. Angry Christians in Pakistan demonstrated across the country after two suicide bombers killed at least 85 people and perhaps as many as 150, eclipsing the massacre in Nairobi, at least for now.
Angry Christians protested across Pakistan on Monday to demand better protection after a devastating double suicide bombing at a church killed more than 80 people.
The attack on All Saints church in the northwestern city of Peshawar after a service on Sunday is believed to be the deadliest ever to target Pakistan’s small Christian minority.
Christians demonstrated in towns and cities around Pakistan, including Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar to protest against the violence and demand the authorities do more to protect them.
More than 600 protesters blocked a major highway in Islamabad for several hours during the Monday morning rush hour, burning tyres and causing long tailbacks, an AFP photographer said.
Later around 2,000 people gathered to protest outside parliament.
Christian leaders from around the world joined in the condemnation of the attacks:
The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the World Council of Churches have expressed shock and sadness at the killing of up to 150 people at a church in Pakistan by suicide bombers. At the same time Christians affected have expressed anger that the Pakistan government did not offer better protection against such violence.
News agency reports put the death toll on Monday at 85 from the suicide bombing at the 130-year-old All Saints Chruch, but the Anglican Communion News Service said 150 people were killed.
The attack in the city of Peshawar occurred as worshippers were leaving the main Sunday service.
All Saints is part of the Church of Pakistan, a united church, which is part of the Anglican Communion and a member of the World Methodist Council as well as belonging to the World Council of Churches.
On one of the main roads coming into the capital, Islamabad, demonstrators burned brush and tyres and demanded government protection for the members of the Christian minority, Sky News reported Monday.
Pakistan already provides some police protection for Christian churches, CBS reports, but it hasn’t been enough:
Churches and other places important to the Christian community in Peshawar have been given extra security, said Khan, the police official.
But this has not been sufficient to appease angry Christians in Pakistan, who want the government to take even stronger steps to protect them.
Many churches, as well as mosques and other religious institutions, already receive some type of police protection although many Christians say that is too little. A police officer who was supposed to be protecting the church where the suicide bombers attacked Sunday was killed in the incident.
Until Pakistan deals with its extremist problem — one which it encouraged for its policies in Afghanistan and Kashmir — the Christians in Pakistan will continue to be vulnerable no matter how many police officers get put in front of the churches. That is the truth of the situation, and the plight of Christians throughout the region.