Dubai: Black ribbons tied on their arms and holding lit candles, residents in the UAE gathered at the Holy Trinity Church in Dubai on Saturday, in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the recent church bombings in Lahore, Pakistan.
The memorial service was organised by the Pakistani Christian community in the UAE, and had an intrinsic message for the Pakistani government.
“This is also our way of asking the Pakistani government of finding the means to secure the safety of the Christian minority,” Pastor Ajmal Khan, Church of Pakistan, said. “We are concerned about the well-being of our community. The government should find a way to effectively protect all places of worship, whether temples, churches or mosques. Here in the UAE we are fortunate as we can pursue our traditions and faith without fear and worry. I hope the Pakistani government can adopt and maintain similar conditions.”
Almost 80 people were injured and 16 people killed in the Taliban-orchestrated attacks at the Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church on March 15. Both churches are located in the Youhanabad area, which is one of Pakistan’s largest Christian localities. The attack, which was led by two suicide bombers, took place during the Sunday service. Protests were ignited after the attack, lasting for at least three days. An estimated 4,000 Pakistani Christians gathered at the site and lynched two men, who the mob suspected were part of the assault.
The attack was the second targeting the Christian minority after the suicide bombing of the All Saints Church in Peshawar, which claimed the lives of 75 people.
Ahead of the memorial service in Dubai, Reverend John Qadir of the New Apostolic Church said: “We organised this service in remembrance of those who lost their lives to the church bombings. It is also our way of extending our respects to the families of the victims and praying for the recovery of the injured. The memorial service is not just dedicated to our Christian brothers and sisters but also our Muslim compatriots who lost their lives in the attack. Through the media, we came to know that two Muslim policemen were killed and another who gave his life to try and prevent the attack.”
Javed Khokhar, Layman of the Church of Pakistan, said such attacks do not adhere to the teachings of any religion.
“These attacks know no god,” he said, “We condemn these attacks. They do not have a religion but are executed with political motives. We, the Christian community, are not seeking revenge. We are only trying to pray for those who lost their lives and hope their souls rest in peace.”