Islamabad: Islamic groups oppose the construction of a Hindu temple
by Shafique Khokhar

The project is funded by the government. Aournd three million Hindus live in the country; 3,000 in the capital. For some conservative Muslims, members of minority are third-class citizens and do not have the right to build new places of prayer. A High court justice has no objection to construction. For Hindu activist, new mosques built in non-Muslim countries are examples of harmony between the different faiths.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad has sparked opposition from some of country’s more conservative Muslims.

Work on the Shri Krishna temple (mandir) began last Tuesday. The structure covers an area of ​​more than 2,000 square metres. The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is providing US$ 1.32 million in funding.

Pakistan is home to about three million Hindus out of a population of 204 million (97 per cent Muslims). The capital’s 3,000 Hindus are currently forced to go out of town to take part in their religious ceremonies.

For Prime Minister Khan, the Hindu community has contributed to the prosperity and development of the country since it was founded, and so deserves public support. Some Muslim clerics disagree.

Maulana Zia-ul-Din Manseharvi, from Jamia-e-Ashrafia University in Lahore (Punjab), issued a fatwa (religious opinion) against building the Hindu temple.

He claims that non-Muslims can live and pray freely in the land of Islam, but sharia (Islamic law) prohibits them from building new places of prayer or renovating old temples.

Chaudhary Parvez Ilahi, speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, is also against the project.

For him, Pakistan belongs only to Muslims and Hindus are third-class citizens. "We respect the rights of minorities, and the temples that already exist should only be repaired.”

The issue is now before the courts. In a statement, High Court Justice Amir Farooq stressed that the rights of minorities must be respected and that there can be no objection to the construction of a sacred place.

Parkash Heerani, a Hindu activist, member of the Alkhidmat Foundation, also rejects the objections to the construction of the temple.

In a comment on social media, he noted that when a mosque is built in a non-Muslim country, many in Pakistan consider it an example of harmony between different faiths. The same should apply in the case of the Hindu temple in Islamabad.