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World News

Pakistani church forced to remove cross after threats from Islamic community

by Premier Journalist

A church under construction in Pakistan has been forced to remove its cross after being threatened by Muslims in their community. 
The incident occurred in a village near Baloki, 40 miles from Lahore, the capital city of the Punjab province. 

Barnabas, a Christian resident of the village, uploaded a video to social media explaining the situation:

"We constructed three floors of minarets on a church and fixed the cross on top of that," he said. "However, [the cross] was removed after we received threats from local Muslims."

He added: "The Muslims [demanded] we remove the cross and all three floors of the minarets. Therefore, we had to obey them. Now, the building does not look like a church. It's just a room and therefore we are sad."

A local pastor explained that the Christians "agreed to the demands with broken hearts".

He continued: "Although it was an illegal demand against Pakistan's constitution, which guarantees religious freedom to all citizens. 
The authorities must look into this matter and ensure freedom of religion to all the segments of society.

"We will fix a cross on the church wall. We took this decision for the safety and protection of Christians in the village. Muslims threatened that if we don't remove the cross, they will ban the prayer services and take the church property."

Pakistan is one of the most oppressive places in the world for Christians, with Open Doors ranking it at number five on its World Watch List. It has become famous for its blasphemy laws, which often result in followers of Jesus being sentenced to death and then languishing in prison for years as they endure a lengthy appeals process. In 2018, Christian mother Asia Bibi had her much-publicised blasphemy conviction quashed by Pakistan's Supreme Court after spending a decade on death row.

Due to concerns for her personal safety, Bibi and her family were later evacuated out of the country and have since resettled in Canada.

Last month, Trinity Pentecostal Church in Kala Shah Kaku in Punjab province came under siege from a group of Islamic radicals, who issued death threats to congregants and then proceeded to burn the church down. 

Lead pastor Barkat told International Christian Concern (ICC) that the attack on Trinity Pentecostal Church was an attempted "land grab." 

Following the Covid-19 lockdown, the church has been closed down and the worshipers are not visiting," he explained. "Therefore, a group of land grabbers wanted to utilize this opportunity for their motives."

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