ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned and deplored the attack and burning of a church in Mardan.

In a message, the president said on Sunday: “The highly provocative anti-Islam film had been roundly condemned throughout the world and particularly in Pakistan by Muslims and non-Muslims alike but ransacking public and private property particularly the places of worship of other religions was itself un-Islamic and highly condemnable.”

He said that ransacking and vandalising revered places of worship and inflicting self-damage in retaliation amounted to playing into the hands of perpetrators of the crime who produced the hate film.

Describing the torching of the church as ‘unfortunate and reprehensible’, Mr Zardari said it was contrary to the teachings of Islam which ordained respecting places of worship of all religions. “Incidents like this portrayed Pakistan and Muslims negatively,” he said.

He called upon the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to take all appropriate measures for protecting the places of worship of Christians and other minorities and address their grievances in this regard to avoid such incidents in future.

The PPP Human Rights Cell has also condemned the burning of the church.

It condemned the violence that led to loss of innocent lives and the burning of private and public property causing losses of billions of rupees.

“On this day, the government wanted to demonstrate national unity and all of Pakistan including religious minorities supported this cause,” said Dr Nafisa Shah, Central Coordinator of the cell.

“This was to be a solemn day to demonstrate to the world, the love and respect for the Prophet of Islam (Peace Be Upon Him), and to register a protest against the obnoxious material on the YouTube that humiliates a world religion and conspires to inflame the world.

“However, this is not a clash of civilisations, nor a clash against another religion, or community, but a protest against what seems to be a conspiracy to unleash a clash of civilisations and religions and it is clear that anyone who plays that card will not succeed.

“Muslims of Pakistan have and will reject these acts designed to pit the world religions and civilisations against each other.”

The cell called upon the authorities to take severe action against the miscreants who used Islam to perpetuate violence on life and property and to take special measures to protect religious minorities.

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