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REX/Rana Sajid Hussain
World News

Giant cross for Pakistani Christians underway in Karachi

by Hannah Tooley

According to BBC journalist Shahzeb Jillani, the cross is thought to be one of the highest in the region and measures around 43 metres high.

The cross has been built over the last 12 months and stands inside a cemetry known as the Gora Qabaristan, translating into "a graveyard for the white people" in Urdu.

It stands in one of the city's oldest and largest cemetries which dates back to British colonial times and is located along a busy road.

However, in recent years it has been losing land to unofficial settlements, as well as rubbish dumping and graves and statues have been damaged.

Parvez Henry Gill, the businessman behind the idea says he is building it as "a symbol of peace and hope."

He said he had a dream two years ago in which God told him to do something for his community: "I want to show the world the Christian community in Pakistan has religious freedom."

Christians make up a small minority in Pakistan's 190 strong population, which is majority Muslim.

According to the country's last census, Christians total around 1.5 per cent, but Christian leaders say around 5.5 per cent is more accurate.

There have been worsening attacks on Christians over the past few years - it is estimated around 80 people were killed when a church was bombed in the north-western city of Peshawar in 2013.

And in March 2015 suicide bombers in the eastern city of Lahore killed 15 people at a church.

Most recently Premier has covered the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

She denies the charges.

Her legal battle gone all the way to the Supreme Court, which temporarily suspended her death sentence last month.

However she remains in prison after six years.

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