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Sunday, June 12, 2016

NEWS: Muslims Raise Funds and Help Rebuild Christian Church in Pakistan


In a nation where interfaith conflict is too regular an occurrence, Muslims and Christians have joined together to rebuild a church.

Muslim villagers in Gojra in Punjab Muslims have joined Christians in the village of Khalsabad village near Gojra in Punjab, Pakistan to rebuild a church swept away by floods in the last monsoon season, according to reports from the Daily Pakistan.

The cooperation could help heal memories from a 2009 conflagration over blasphemy in which ten Christians were murdered by a Muslim mob, seven of them burned alive in their homes. Four churches were also burned.

Dilawar Hussain, a Muslim shopkeeper who donated funds towards the new church, is helping because he believes the church is a “house of Allah”, the same God Muslims believe in, and is proud of helping promote religious harmony.

Other local businessmen and farmers have also contributed.

Father Aftab James Paul, assistant parish priest at the St Fidelis Church in Khushpur and responsible for pastoral outreach to 56 villages including Khalsabad, said: “This is what life is about.”

He said that the mob violence of a few should not be blamed on all the followers of a religion and called for the overriding message to be one of love.

A Catholic prayer room was also constructed in Gojra in 2005 with the help of Muslims.

“Our mosque stands here from times past, but our Christian brothers also have the right to worship in their church,” another local Muslim told Pakistan Daily.

The village has been without a Christian place of worship since the churches were destroyed. Most inhabitants are Muslim but there are eight Christian families.

Christian villager Faryal Masih said: “As far as I can remember, we have been living together, we partake in each other’s happiness, sorrows and other religious festivals. We rest assured that our Muslim neighbours will stand by our side in times of trouble.”

According to Anadolu Agency, the Muslims put forward the idea after Easter. Before that, Christians had to worship in each other’s homes.

Father James said: “Muslim residents of the town, however, offered to build us a chapel as a gift. We are thankful to our Muslim brothers for this wonderful gesture. It makes us feel proud.”

Christians are Pakistan’s largest religious minority, and make up about three per cent of the total population of 180 million. About six in ten Protestant, while the rest are Catholic. Most work in professions such as teaching and nursing.














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