A community of Pakistani Christians were forced to remove a cross from a church under construction in a village near Baloki, over 40 miles from Lahore, the capital city of the Punjab province.
Barnabas, a Christian resident of the village, explained the shocking events in a video.
“We constructed three floors of minarets on a church and fixed the cross on top of that,” he stated in a video uploaded on social media. “However, [the cross] was removed after we received threats from local Muslims.”
“The Muslims [demanded] we remove the cross and all three floors of the minarets,” Barnabus continued. “Therefore, we had to obey them. Now, the building does not look like a church. It’s just a room and therefore we are sad.”
“We agreed to the demands with broken hearts,” Pastor Ilyas, a local pastor, reported. “Although it was an illegal demand against Pakistan’s constitution, which guarantees religious freedom to all citizens. The authorities must look into this matter and ensure freedom of religion to all the segments of society.”
“We will fix a cross on the church wall,” Pastor Ilyas continued. “We took this decision for the safety and protection of Christians in the village. Muslims threatened that if we don’t remove the cross, they will ban the prayer services and take the church property,” according to International Christian Concern.
Human rights groups have attacked Pakistan as one of the most oppressive places in the world for Christians.
Open Doors, a non-profit group protecting Christians, ranked Pakistan as the world’s fifth worst country for extreme religious persecution of Christians.