Muslim villagers in Pakistan are helping to fund a new church for their neighbours in a show of religious solidarity six years after the Christian community was attacked by mobs in the area.
People in the village of Khaksabad are donating what they can afford towards the building of a new mud chapel for the Christian community, after their previous place of worship was swept away by the monsoon rains, reports Daily Pakistan.
“I learnt about the project in a community meeting last month,” Dilawar Hussain, a Muslim shopkeeper, told Asia News. “A church is also a house of Allah; praying is what matters. We worship the same God.”
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The donations vary due to economic conditions, with one farmer giving 2,000 rupees (£21) towards the project, while local business owners such as Mr Hussain have donated 10,000 rupees (£105) and as much as 30,000 rupees (£315).
“After local riots we are trying to bring people together even more,” villager Ijaz Farooq told the BBC. “We have increased our activity so we don’t have to face something like that. By building this church we want to show that we are united as a community,” he said.
Gojra, the closest city to the village, is where religious mobs attacked the houses of known Christians in 2009, leaving 10 dead. Seven people were burned alive in their houses and four churches were destroyed in nearby villages.
Faryal Masih, a Christian villager who grew up in the community, told the broadcaster: “Since my childhood we have all lived together in this one place. We live with love [and] attend each other’s weddings and festivals.
“We are together in times of happiness and grief. I pray that we never have to go through what happened in Gojra ever,” he said.
The new chapel means Christians in the village will no longer have to rent or borrow a house to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and other holidays.
“At first I didn’t believe it when Muslim community leaders said they would build us a chapel,” Christian labourer Faryad Masih told Anadolu Agency.
“But to my surprise, construction work began within one month of the initial announcement,” a visibly excited Faryad said.
“Our community’s longtime dream is now coming true,” he said.