PAKISTAN – Pakistani Christians attacked over church construction, 1 left partially paralyzed

CP | Samuel Smith | February 27, 2020

A Pakistani Christian man is partially paralyzed after a mob of Muslim men shot two Christians and attacked another with an ax for constructing a church in a village in Punjab province. 

The Union of Catholic Asia News reports that 25-year-old Azeem Gulzar is now paralyzed from the right shoulder down after he was shot in the head on Feb. 2 in Punjab’s Sahiwal district. 

Gulzar’s cousin was also shot while his uncle was attacked with an ax, according to Gulzar’s younger brother, Waseem. All three men were taken to a hospital but have since been released. 

Gulzar, a tailor, had donated a 550-square-foot plot to be used as the site of a new church for the town’s 150 Christians. However, plans for the church drew the ire of area Muslims as the plot shares a wall with a property owned by a Muslim school teacher. 

The attack came after months of disagreements between Gulzar’s family and the owner of the neighboring plot, Muhammad Liaqat. The attack also followed the Christian community’s winning of consent from a district coordinator for the church’s construction. 

However, a Muslim villager has claimed that community members were successful in getting a court to issue an injunction against the church’s construction. 

Gulzar’s family built a wall and door on the construction site on Feb. 2. But later that night, about 15 Muslims descended on the property to tear down the wall. When Gulzar and his family tried to stop the destruction, they were attacked.