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Service banned in unauthorised churches

Updated January 15, 2018

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PESHAWAR: The police have stopped Christian community members from holding service in churches set up in residential quarters in Abbottabad city over security reasons.

Officials said the religious service was banned in six unauthorised residential compounds, which were used as churches. They said the decision was taken in the wake of attack on a church in Quetta on Christmas.

An official of the cantonment police station of Abbottabad said notices had been issued to the local Christian population that either they should properly register temporary churches with the Auqaf department or hold service in the registered and designated churches.

The official said the compounds were initially hired as residential quarters where they had started holding religious service. “In each of the six places, at least 100 to 200 people gathered for service without informing the police,” he said, adding the decision had been taken purely on account of security of the worshippers.

He said there were three registered churches in the main town, where police had provided 24-hour security.

When contacted, Joseph John, the priest-in-charge of St John’s Cathedral, Peshawar, also supported the police action and said under the law the concerned community should register the religious places with the authorities under the company law. He said the six places where service was banned were not registered.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2018