Pakistani Christians fearful this Christmas
GOJRA, Pakistan (AP) - Christmas in Gojra, where a tent camp houses Christians who lost their homes to a rampaging Muslim mob, will be celebrated not with decorations and cheer but with fear of another attack.
Those living in the canvas shelters after the worst violence against minorities in Pakistan this year left them homeless say they are still regularly harassed: Rocks are thrown at their camp at night, and they’ve been threatened by cell phone text messages promising a "special Christmas present."
"Last year I celebrated Christmas full of joy," said Irfan Masih, cradling his young son near one of the open ditches of the tent camp that has been his home for nearly five months. But now "the fear that we may again be attacked is in our hearts.
"They are threatening us, (saying) ‘We will again attack you and will not let you out of your homes, we will burn you inside this time,"’ he said.
It was the fires that most traumatized Gojra’s Christian Colony, a neighborhood in the heart of this Punjabi city about 220 miles (350 kilometers) southwest of Islamabad. In early August, hundreds of Muslims tore through the dirt streets, looting and torching homes as panicked residents tried to flee and thick black smoke rose into the air.