ASIA/PAKISTAN – A church building destroyed by extremists, the demolition of Christian homes in the capital is at risk

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - Christians in Pakistan see their right to have places of worship and even a house violated. As reported to Fides, the faithful Christians of the area identified by the initials "Chak 3-4 -L" in Okara, Punjab Pakistan, began the construction of a church on land donated by the Christian Akber Masih, a resident in the area. They built the walls of the building and placed a cross in front of the main gate of the small construction yard. In recent days, when a large group of Islamic extremists saw the Christian symbol they arrived unexpectedly with bulldozers and started demolishing the building. The faithful filed a complaint to the police. As reported to Fides by the NGO "Sharing Life Ministries Pakistan", the perpetrators were not arrested, thanks to the political clout they have. Christians in the neighborhood who have asked for protection to civil authorities, on the other hand have received threats and have to abandon the idea of the project to build a church.
Another warning, reported to Fides by the Christian community in the capital, Islamabad, concerns the slums and poor neighborhoods in the capital, areas (called "colonies") where Christian minorities, the poor and the marginalized live in ghettos. These "colonies" are crowded with people who often come to the city from rural areas hoping to find a job. These neighborhoods do not have water pipes and sewers. In recent days, a High Court judge in Islamabad ordered the Capital Development Authority to demolish all these settlements, as they are considered abusive. The colonies affected by the measure are at least ten in several peripheral areas of the capital. An official of the municipality has estimated that there are about 5,000 Christian families living in these settlements. Christian leaders are asking the municipality to think about some form of accommodation for these families, who have been living in the city for years and to improve the social and economic condition of minorities in the community. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/03/2014)