ISTANBUL, August 16 (Compass Direct News) — Christians and Hindus in northern Pakistan have received dozens of letters threatening them with death if they refuse to become Muslims, church sources and a police official said yesterday.
Police continued to provide security around churches and temples this week, even as Christians received new deadlines for converting to Islam.
Though the original August 10 deadline for conversion has passed, Peshawar’s minorities continue to live in fear, canceling church activities and skipping services, a Catholic priest said.
“Embrace Islam and become Muslims “¦ otherwise, after next Friday, August 10, your colony will be ruined,” read more than a dozen identical letters collected by the Church of Pakistan (COP) in Peshawar, 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of Islamabad.
A spokesman for COP, Pakistan’s largest Protestant body, said that on August 7 some of the threatening letters had been thrown into the courtyards of Christian and Hindu homes in Peshawar’s Kohati, Interior City and Cantonment districts. Different letters were mailed to Peshawar’s Catholic and Protestant churches.
“All in all, we were able to collect only 15 of the letters from the community,” said Ashar Dean, assistant director of communications for COP”s Peshawar diocese.
Explaining that they were delivered to neighborhoods heavily populated by minority families living in small houses around a common courtyard, Dean said that the letters probably reached more than 100 Christians and Hindus.
A separate letter mailed to COP diocesan priest Joseph John threatened suicide attacks against churches.
“Our mosques and children are being martyred at American orders,” read the letter. “Therefore the churches will also be wiped out from the face of the earth.”