11/25/2005, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Ashes from torched churches to remain for 40 days

Forty days constitute Pakistan's traditional mourning period. Christian leaders ask ulemas to co-operate in building "harmony amongst the faiths".

Sangla Hill (AsiaNews) – The ashes left by the torching of the Sangla Hill Christian churches shall not be touched or removed for 40 days, according to Fr Samson Dilawar, parish priest of the Catholic church burnt down by a Muslim mob on November 12 after a decision to that effect was taken by the local Action Committee. Traditionally, 40 days represent the period of mourning in Pakistan.

The Action Committee refused to co-operate with the investigation into the attack by a session judge of the Nankana district believing that it should be carried out by high court judge as conceded by Punjab's Chief Minister Parvez Elahi on his visit to the site on November 16.

Reactions to the attacks came from all Christian churches. On Wednesday the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Church, urged President Pervez Musharraf to review the unjust blasphemy law, which is thought to have provoked the attacks.

Bishop Alexander John Malik, moderator of the Church of Pakistan, called on Pakistani ulemas to come forward and build harmony amongst the faiths and condemn violence perpetrated in the name of religion.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace has called a consultation meeting for December 4 inviting social groups touched by the attacks to Lahore to plan the responses to religious intolerance.  

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