Last Sunday, September 22, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Islamic suicide bombers entered the All Saints Church compound right after Sunday mass and blew themselves up in the midst of some 550 congregants, killing, according to the latest count, nearly 90 worshippers, including many Sunday school children, women, and choir members, and injuring at least another 120. The now destroyed Protestant church was built in Peshawar some 130 years ago. The Taliban claimed the attacks.
According to Margrette, a parishioner who survived (though her sister’s status was unknown), “I heard two explosions. People started to run. Human remains were strewn all over the church.”
Armed attacks on churches are hardly uncommon in Pakistan, even though Christians are less than 2% of the population, while Muslims are 97%. In 2001 Islamic gunmen stormed St. Dominic’s Protestant Church, opening fire on the congregants and killing at least 16 worshippers, most women and children. Last Christmas, “when Christian worshipers were coming out of different Churches after performing Christmas prayers, more than one hundred Muslim extremists equipped with automatic rifles, pistols and sticks attacked the Christian women, children and men.” The attack came in response to fatwas condemning Christmas celebrations.
As for Muslim mob violence (as opposed to preplanned terrorist strikes) this is a common fixture that regularly flares up against Pakistan’s Christians and other minorities, most often in the context of “blasphemy,” that is, offending Islam or its prophet. A few months ago, in March, because one Christian was accused of blasphemy, some 3,000 Muslims attacked the Christian Joseph Colony of Lahore, burning two churches and 160 Christian homes.
According to one Christian eyewitness, “The police was doing what it does best—nothing! Their bias towards Christians is quite evident, because when the Muslims were raiding our church and property, they just watched, but when we confronted them, they started hitting us with batons and used live ammunition to deter us.”
In 2009 in Gojra, eight Christians were burned alive, 100 houses looted and 50 homes set ablaze after another blasphemy accusation.
Thousands of miles away in Kenya (83% Christian and 11% Muslim), on Saturday, September 21, Islamic terrorists linked to neighboring Somalia’s Al Shabaab (“the youth”) raided the Westgate shopping mall, slaughtering at least 62 people and injuring at least 150.
Among the Islamic terrorists are several Americans.