Religion persecution watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) reports Pastor Naveed Azeem received a letter ordering him to pay the sum, with the note also warning him that if he did not a terror attack would take place on his church in Pakistan. He went to the police and did not pay the ransom, which he received in the form of an envelope near a shoe rack outside of his Assembly of God Church. It ordered him to pay the sum within 10 days or “dig up 50 graves”.
It also warned him against going to the police, adding that if he did there would be attacks on Sri Lanka similar to that of the Easter Sunday terror attack that killed 280 people.
He took the letter to police are first showing it to the council of local church leaders.
Father Anthony Abraz, one of these local church leaders, told UCA News: “Given what happened in Sri Lanka, it is terrifying not only for the pastor but for the entire community and those who attend the prayer service at the church.”
“There is a growing sense of insecurity among the already marginalised minorities.
“But we have to trust our government and law enforcement agencies.”
The threat now has many other Christians in the area worried they too could
be targeted as part of the frightening scam.
Pakistan is one of many locations where Christians are targeted by rebel religious groups.
Another location for this is China, which has seen levels of Christian persecution spiral out of control in recent years as the current government there prevent freedom of religion.
Sky News only last week reported Christians are being oppressed in the country.
Vicar at All Saints Church, Geoff Eze, said that it causes him great pain to hear of the suffering Christians have to endure for believing in their religion in nations like China.
He said: “Religion has a real degree of power and creates fear from authorities and from other institutions which still exists today.
“I think the irony is that we as human beings believe we are enlightened and in some respects moved on technologically have not necessarily moved on spiritually.
“We are still looking to either oppress or compress people in a way of particular thinking.
“I find it quite painful and it also enables me to recognise how privileged I am not just as a priest here in the Church of England but equally as a human being living in a western country.
“I am able to exercise my faith with a degree of freedom, it is actually quite painful to see how those that believe in what I believe in are having to do so in under fear and worry.
“Fear that they may be killed for something that they believe, it is really quite concerning.”
China is ranked at 27, below turkey and above Ethiopia and Dr Mathew Rees of the charity has argued that the persecution in Asia has been getting steadily worse over the years.
Written by: Carly Read
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