10/25/2010, 00.00

Rawalpindi: Police stop mass in front of Gordon College chapel

Jibran Khan
Local authorities apply law 144 / c, which bans any gathering of more than two individuals. The Christians had organized the mass to protest against the illegal occupation of the Protestant chapel since October 19 by a group of Islamic extremists .

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The situation remains tense between Christians and local authorities in Rawalpindi (Punjab) over the illegal occupation of the Christian chapel of Gordon College, a Presbyterian Church University. Yesterday, the police stopped the celebration of a Mass organized by the Protestant community in front of the chapel. To prevent the gathering local authorities applied law 144 / c, which bans any gathering of more than two individuals. More than 20 police trucks arrived on site, dispersing the crowd.

On 19 October, a group of 20 armed men occupied the chapel and have barricaded themselves inside. These are Muslim faithful who have the backing of the local government with false documents claiming ownership of the building.

The act has drawn the protests of both Christians and Muslims. In recent days, the All Pakistan Christian Action Committee (Apcac), the local Christian community and non-governmental organizations took to the streets of Rawalpindi to demand justice and freedom of worship for Christians.

Nina Robinson Asghar, head of Apcac, said: "The culprits have made fake documents of the property, they want to demolish the Church and construct a commercial center,but we will never allow this to happen."

The Chapel of the Gordon College was reopened in April 2010 after eight years of closure. It currently belongs to a government trust fund, which should hand it to the Christian community, however, according to Pakistani law, the church could also be sold to third. The illegal occupation is an attempt to steal the building, a similar incident occurred in April, but the police intervened, arresting the culprits.

Printable version
See also
Rawalpindi: Christian chapel at Gordon College attacked
Pakistani Muslims with the Pope for religious freedom and repeal of blasphemy law
Msgr. Coutts: “We brave terrorism with our heads held high by witnessing the Gospel”
Paul Bhatti, brother of the murdered minister is "special adviser" to Prime Minister on Minorities
Mgr Saldanha Pakistani Christians oppressed by violence rediscover God