Christmas monument erected on site of religious violence
The cross that stands for Christian resistance
The tallest cross in the country was unveiled over the holidays, in what Church leaders say is a sign of resistance against persecution.
Yaadgar-e-Calvary (Calvary Monument), a soaring 18-meter cement cross, is the tallest religious symbol of Christianity in this Muslim country, according to local news channels.
“The new cross shouts that nothing can stop us from following our faith,” said Major Iftikhar Zahid, pastor of a local Salvation Army church.
Unveiled on Christmas Eve, the structure took 10 months to complete and cost more than 975,000 rupees (US$10,000), provided by a Karachi-based real estate businessman, Haroon Gill.
“I hope it will inspire similar structures in other Christian localities,” he said.
Gill was among thousands of Christians in Shanti Nagar, a village in Punjab, whose families were attacked in 1997 by Muslim mobs after an alleged desecration of a Qu'ran.
The government later reconstructed 785 houses and all the four churches destroyed, but villagers observe the anniversary of the attacks each year and some signs still remain.
“The attack is not mentioned on the plaque of Yaadgar-e-Calvary, which records village history,” pastor Zahid said. “It was a dark chapter, which should have never happened.”
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