Faisalabad to have first university chapel in Pakistan
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Faisalabad, Pakistani Punjab, will soon be home to the country’s first Catholic university chapel. After three years of discussion, the project was approved by the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Uaf), a training institute where many Christian students are enrolled and where at least 300 followers of Christianity work.
Last May 18, Msgr. Joseph Arshad, bishop of Faisalabad, laid the foundation stone in the presence of hundreds of pupils. Speaking to AsiaNews, the prelate expresses the joy of a very significant moment, given the violence against minorities also carried out within universities. “This is unprecedented, the first such example of its kind. This rare example of interfaith harmony will deliver a better image of our country. Other universities should do the same”, he said.
At the ceremony were also Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Uaf’s vice-chancellor, five priests and several professors. Bishop Arshad reports that discussions with university administration “have been going on for some time, but the work never started. Now, minority students will eventually have their own place of worship. “
The project will cover 0.125 acres [just over 500 square meters] and will cost 7.6 million Pakistani rupees [nearly 65 thousand euros], including 3 million [more than 25,000 euros] donated by the diocese of Faisalabad. The vice-rector Khan, of Islamic faith, states: “The plan of the project has already been approved. The goal is to celebrate Christmas in the Christian building. “
The encouraging example of Faisalabad comes at a time marked by terrible violence against minorities and against secular thinkers, often motivated by blasphemy. In fact accusations of this led hundreds of students to lynch their colleague Mashal Khan, a student at Mardan University, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province . He was tortured and killed for alleged offenses against the Prophet Muhammad.
Catholic professor Anjum James Paul, president of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association, points out “Government functionaries should punish these non-state actors without any compromise. Folk and cultural programs are the part and parcel of extracurricular activities. We condemn religio political parties bent upon anti culture agenda. We appreciate UAF administration but it was not a favor. Religious freedom is our constitutional right and all universities should have churches, temples and gurdwaras”.