12/21/2018, 13.36
PAKISTAN
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Asia’s tallest cross lit up with the colours of Christmas (video)

by Kamran Chaudhry

The cross stands at more than 40 metres at the entrance of Karachi’s only Christian cemetery. Auto rickshaw drivers complain that it casts a shadow on their vehicles. The cross will remain lit until the New Year.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Asias’s biggest cross was lit in Pakistan, a Muslim majority country, to celebrate Christmas.

 “The landmark structure turns red, blue, purple and pink after every two days,” said Parvez Henry, a real estate tycoon, speaking to AsiaNews.

“The month-long initiative is intended to mark the joyous occasion and celebrate our faith in difficult circumstances. It will continue changing colour till New Year,” the Protestant businessman added.

The cross was completed in August. Standing on an underground base, it is 140 feet (42.6 meters) tall. Construction took four years.

Located at the entrance of Gora Qabristan (white man's graveyard), it is the only Christian cemetery in Karachi, dating back to the colonial era.

The cross was built to in solidarity with the “poor and depressed” Christian community of Pakistan.

Before, Pakistan's tallest cross was Yaadgar-e-Calvary (Calvary Monument) at 18 metres, inaugurated in 2013 at the crossroads of Shanti Nagar, a village in Punjab where a crowd of Muslims destroyed 785 Christian houses and four churches in 1997.

Henry, a father of five, refused to comment on the challenges in completing the project. “Only Divine help gave me courage to make it possible. It will remind millions of commuters of our existence and contribution to building the nation,” he explained.

Now the Protestant businessman plans to invite Pope Francis to inaugurate the structure next year. The last visit to Pakistan by a pontiff dates back to 1981 with Pope John Paul II. Henry was present at the event.

For now, Church authorities are meeting with law enforcement to organise security measures for churches during the Christmas period.

As for the giant cross itself, many people have come out against it, said Saleem Daleep, a Karachi driver. Local newspapers report that at least 20 Muslim workers quit the project.

“Commuters have complained of being irked by its shadow on their vehicles,” he explained. “The monuments of religious minorities are already rare in our country. Many Christian jewellers and tuck tuck (autorickshaw) owners do not show their Christian crosses and rosaries at work.”

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