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World News

Pakistan: Police force pastor to shut down church

by Tola Mbakwe

Police in Pakistan have arrested a pastor and a member of his congregation while they were worshiping.

According to Christian religious freedom charity CLAAS-UK, the arrests at New life Church in Mohallah Sialkoti, Lahore on 25th February were made after a nearby Muslim residents complained to the local police.

Pastor Amjad and Elder Yousaf Lal from the church said local Muslims in the neighbourhood have been regularly threatening them and forcing them to close the church permanently, claiming it’s disturbing them. 

The two were arrested without any investigation or arrest warrant.  After intervention from their lawyer, they were released with a harsh warning and told not to open their church again.

They were told that if they opened the church again “it wouldn’t be good for them”.

Elder Lal said it was very painful when the police forced him to give in writing that he would never worship in this church again.

Pastor Amjad said he started the church a few months ago because there wasn’t a church in the area. But since it’s opening they have been consistently threatened and abused for worshiping in the church.

According to CLAAS-UK, on the day when police were called, some local Muslim men and women interrupted the congregation and told them to stop their worship. It’s been reported they also used insulting and forcefully tried to stop them from worshiping.

Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK said that unfortunately religious intolerance continues to rise in the country and religious tolerance and harmony continues to melt away.

He said: “Worshiping in a peaceful way is every citizen’s right. But sadly, for the last several decades hatred against Christians continues to rise as they are considered allies of the west and lower than the Muslims. 

“Government discriminatory policies continue to contribute to it and space for religious minorities in the Pakistani society is rapidly shrinking.

“The majority of Christians feel insecure and see no future in Pakistan, while many have already left the country.”

 

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