Father William Siraj was killed and Rev. Patrick Naeem was injured in what the police calls a terrorist attack motivated by religious extremism.
by Massimo Introvigne
This time, they killed. After a plethora of attacks against Christian churches and false accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan, Islamic extremists went one step further and killed an Anglican pastor in Peshawar.
Father William Siraj was a pastor beloved by his parishioner at All Saints Church, which is part of the Church of Pakistan, affiliated with the Anglican Communion. It is an historical church, opened in 1883. Legendary missionary Thomas Patrick Hughes was the main force behind the project of the new parish.
Father Siraj tried to work for peace and reconciliation in a community that has not forgotten the deadly terrorist attack of September 22, 2013, when two suicide bombers, after shouting that non-Muslim religions should not be allowed in Pakistani land, killed 127 and injured another 170 at the end of a Sunday service.
On Sunday January 30, when he was leaving the church after a Sunday service with his co-worker Reverend Patrick Naeem, unknown men attacked their car, killing Siraj. Naeem almost miraculously escaped with minor injuries only.
The police classified the act as “terrorism,” and the highest local and national authorities condemned the attack and offered support to the Anglican community. Local parishioners and Bishop Azad Marshall, the Moderator Bishop of the Church of Pakistan, told Pakistani media that words are not enough, and the government should implement measures to effectively protect Christian communities.