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International: Pakistan – Church banned from worship

September 2018

Police discrimination has forced Pakistani Christians to petition the government to allow them to worship in church.

According to reports from the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), a church in New Sarabah Village, Pakistan, has been forced to approach the Deputy Commissioner of Police for Toba Tek Singh for permission to use their church building.

This came after the church was banned from holding any kind of church services two years ago after Christian music and prayers emanating from the building caused alleged ‘severe offence’ to local Muslims.

The Full Gospel Assembly church building had been completed in 2012, despite threats from local Muslim leaders, and for four years the community worshipped there.

However, according to the BPCA, their ‘passionate worship did not go unnoticed’ and soon influential Islamists in the community threatened the terrified members of the church and other Christians in surrounding areas, with threats of violence if the church building continued to be utilised for worship services.

Services were often disrupted and parishioners would have stones hurled at them after services and would be spat at. In 2016, several senior Muslim leaders approached police officers at the local Rajana Police Station and urged them to preserve Islamic pride by closing down the church building.

The constabulary then demanded the attendance of the Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) church leadership at a ‘social harmony meeting’ at Ranjana Police station on Christmas Day 2016.

When the 12 Christian leaders arrived at the police station they were met by over 50 Muslim clerics and leaders during a meeting in which they were ambushed into accepting closure of their church building.

Christian leaders were told that the use of the building to practice their faith would be deemed illegal and could lead to ‘severe fines and long-term imprisonment’. The BPCA has published a petition on its website to put pressure on local governors to overturn the ban on church worship.

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