Pakistan's Christian community protest against satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Peshawar..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A 14-story bulletproof cross is set to rise over the largest city in the predominantly Muslim country of Pakistan, amid a recent slew of religious tensions and hostilities towards local Christians.
Pavez Henry Gill, a local Christian living in Kirachi, reportedly decided to build the church after God appeared to him in a dream and tasked him with improving conditions for the struggling Christians of Pakistan. Gil knew he had to take action, but did not know what to do.
"I said, 'I am going to build a big cross, higher than any in the world, in a Muslim country,'" Gill told
the Washing Post
last week. "It will be a symbol of God, and everybody who sees this will be worry free."
After four years of construction, the giant cross is almost finished, towering high above the entrance to the Gora Qabaristan Cemetery in Karachi, measuring 140 feet-tall by 42 feet-long. The Christian cemetery, which dates back to the British colonial era, has often been victim to vandalism by local Muslims, who constitute over 90 percent of the Pakistani population.
According to the Washington Post
report, Gil hopes the cross will serve as a symbol of hope for the Christian minority, reminding them that they have a place in Pakistan, even though they only make up 1.5% of the 180 million population and have been subjected to violent persecution in the form of murders, burnings and wrongful incarceration.
Last month in Lahore, a 14 year old Christian boy was attacked and set on fire, according to local reports. In March, Muslim suicide bombers killed 15 people attend church services at two separate churches in Lahore. In November, a Christian couple was burned alive by an angry mob after wrongfully being accused of burning a Quran. In 2013, over 100 churchgoers were killed in a suicide bombing attack in Peshawar.
Many of these attacks were motivated by Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy law , which forbids any form of speech or action against the prophet Muhammad, making it a crime punishable by death.
The Muslim population may be notoriously hostile towards Christians, but Gil told the Washington Post
he is prepared. The towering cross made of iron, steel and cements sits on a 20-foot underground base and is reportedly bulletproof.
Gil reportedly aimed to build the tallest cross in the world with his project, but he did not surpass “The Great Cross” in Florida, which stands at 208 feet. But his cross is the largest in Asia. Upon the cross’ completion later this year, Gil plans to hold an inaugural ceremony, to which he will invite Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.sign up to our newsletter