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Pakistani Christians raise protest against government's plan to demolish historic churches

(Reuters)Members of the Pakistani Christian community attend a protest rally to condemn Sunday's suicide attack in Peshawar. September 23, 2013 11:40pm EDT

Pakistani Christians gathered together in front of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday, May 3 to raise their voices against the demolition of four historic churches.

The government is planning to demolish four churches – Cathedral Church, St. Andrew's Church, Naulakha Church and Bohar Wala Church – in order to give way for the construction of the new Orange Line Metro Train.

The plan has alarmed Christians, particularly because these churches, built before Pakistan was established, have a historical significance. They believe the government wants to "grab" the property out of jealousy.

"These churches were built pre-Pakistan and these all churches are located at very expensive and prime locations which politicians and Islamists are jealous of," said Nasir Saeed, director of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement in the U.K. (CLAAS-UK), according to Christian Today. "They cannot stand that Christians have such prime property and ... so try to use any excuse to grab the land and belittle Christians."

The protesting group demanded their rights, saying they will not give up their places of worship.

Saeed said the government's plan to use church property for the train line is just one of the many problems that Christians are facing in Pakistan.

In March, a Pakistani Taliban group carried out a suicide bomb attack targeting Christians who were celebrating Easter Sunday at Gulshan Iqbal Park in Lahore. The attack left 69 people dead and more than 340 people injured, CNN reported.

Saeed said that while some of these Christians are still mourning for the loss of their loved ones who perished during the attack, they now have to face a new threat to their churches.

"There is no respite for them and one problem after the other seems to follow Pakistani Christians," he said.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom lists Pakistan as a "country of particular concern," which means it commits severe violations against religious freedom.

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