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6 Churches in Pakistan Reopened After Uproar

Friday, February 2, 2018, 14:43 (IST)

Six churches in Pakistan that were forcefully shut two weeks ago over alleged security threats were reopened after outcry.

All six churches are located in Abbottabad, where Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was found and killed in U.S. raid in 2011.

Shortly after the U.S. placed Pakistan on a special watch list for severe violation of religious freedom, several churches were closed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. Minority leaders and rights activists took to the streets against the discriminatory move.

The ban was overturned by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Speaker Asad Qaiser when the issue was taken up by opposition lawmakers in the province assembly, according to UCAnews.com.

"All churches have got verbal permission to reopen and worship according to their religious faith and beliefs. We are expecting to get a written order soon," said Pr Christopher Shakar.

"We are grateful to everyone for being with us when we were facing difficulties to worship our Lord. God has proven once again he is always with us," he added.

Basharat Khokhar, a minority rights activist, condemned the government for its discriminatory behavior toward religious minorities.

"On one hand, the government wants to pay billions of rupees to Muslim clerics, while on the other hand it is shutting down Christian worship places," said Khokhar.