We will not spare the Christians of Gojra. They are agents of America. We will tear them to pieces!" These were the words of militant Islamic groups before they burnt the mostly Christian town of Gojra to ashes. Furniture and belongings were looted, and the locals made to run for their lives. "We are being crushed", says one of the survivors, "and one day this is how we will die". It's a fear felt by many of the Christians living in a country where palatial mosques dominate the desert landscape, and religious fervour reaches radical heights. "It's not a matter of if [an attack against the Christians) will happen", says Joseph Coutts, "it's a matter of when".
It was just twelve years ago that Bishop John Joseph stood outside the Court House, and shot himself in the head in protest against the Blasphemy Law. The law is wide ranging and demands punishments up to the death penalty for anyone deemed to have insulted Islam. And whilst many Christians are able to practice their faith freely, the Law remains a vital means of Pakistan's constitutional discrimination today. Muslim clergy take the Quran into court and threaten judges, and Christians say it makes them vulnerable to anyone who has a grudge against them." The government and the majority of the people are really held hostage by the religious majority" says A.J. Malik, a Christian Bishop.
Despite the bloodshed, most Christians in Pakistan realise that it's not a matter of Muslim versus Christian. And there are positive signs of Muslims and Christians living peacefully together. At St Patrick's Cathedral, a Muslim cleric and a Pastor remember their mutual friend Bishop John Joseph. According to Sister Allessia: " Muslims have always been like family to me". Yet so long as the powerful extremist groups keep a stranglehold on the majority religion, Pakistan's Christian community will be worrying about where the next attack will come from.