A 24/7 Christian evangelist television station has been destroyed by arson believed to have been carried out by radical Muslims hiding their identities behind masks.

Gawahi TV was a jointly conceived and financed venture between Catholics and Protestants with the mission of ministering to the needs of Pakistani Christians and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although the Constitution of Pakistan protects “the rights and interests of minorities” as a matter of law, in fact assaults against Christians and churches have increased with the government unwilling or unable to provide the protection the constitution promises.

According to the station’s website, it had approximately 12 million viewers who tuned in on a weekly basis. The channel’s programming included sermons, hymns and features on the evangelism of Christian youth.

The station had been on air for three years before it was hit by early morning arson. The facility burned to the ground.

Employees who were present at the 24/7 station at the time said fire started at around 2:30 am, and told authorities they spotted the masked men fleeing into the night.

Staff said they have been harassed and threatened by radical Muslims ever since they went on the air in 2012, and requests to local police for enhanced security were denied.

Christians constitute only about 2 percent of nearly 200 million Pakistanis and although the government has tried to provide some security to churches in large urban areas, terror attacks in the provincial capital of Punjab prove that Muslim hostility is not being contained.

Fr. John Arif came to the scene and said he was “disheartened that the entire building and equipment were burned. The channel was set up to communicate the word of God. We hope to soon see the channel on air again and pray for peace and tolerance.”

Javed Williams, the head of the Gawahi Mission Trust, which operates the station, added, “We have halted our mission for the time being but we will not let our hopes die down.”

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