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Aid to the Church in Need
40 christian ex prisoners ACN.jpg
Aid to the Church in Need
World News

Christian charity to help 40 Christian ex-prisoners begin new lives

by Premier Journalist

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has offered to help rebuild the lives of 40 Christians who were imprisoned for their faith. 

The men who were acquitted last January after spending five years in prison were accused of lynching two Muslims.  They will now be part of a comprehensive reintegration programme back into the Christian district of Youhanabad, Lahore.

The men will be offered six counselling sessions over the course of 12 months, finance for small businesses,rent money, as well as 10 auto-rickshaws and five rickshaw vans.

Key to the £61,000 reintegration programme is basketball, which will be played on a court erected opposite the priest's house serving Youhannabad's St John's Catholic Church.

Fr Francis Gulzar, the parish's priest said that there's a need for the basketball court in order "to engage the group in healthy physical activity as well as give them a platform to get together and help each other to overcome the trauma and depression of

being imprisoned for something they were not guilty for."

ACN executive president Thomas Heine-Geldern said: "Given their long and terrible ordeal behind bars, the need to help the ex-prisoners could not be more important. Pastoral care is of great importance to regain mental strength."

During the incarceration of these men in Lahore, church leaders claimed police had gone "house to house aiming at arresting as many Christians as possible" while investigating the lynching of the two Muslim men. 

The lynching came amid riots sparked by suicide bomb blasts targeting Christians attending Sunday services both at St John's and Christ Church, also in Youhanabad. 

At least 20 people died and 80 were injured in the blasts, which took place in March 2015.  

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