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Pakistan

Activists welcome approval of Islamabad's first Hindu temple

Religious minority finally get their first temple in Pakistan's capital despite strong opposition

Activists welcome approval of Islamabad's first Hindu temple

Lal Chand Malhi (in black glasses) at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Hindu temple in Islamabad. (Photo supplied)

Hindu activists have welcomed the government decision to allow construction of a Hindu temple in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) announced the approval in a notification issued on Dec. 21.

Lal Chand Malhi, a Hindu member of the National Assembly and parliamentary secretary on human rights, shared the notification in a tweet.

In July, the CDA stopped construction of the boundary wall on the plot meant for the temple, community center or cremation ground after some Muslims took to the courts and social media to register their protests.

Despite the allotment letter from the CDA, the site has been attacked and vandalized four times since the news of its construction was made public.

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The government’s move was met with legal challenges and a fatwa from Jamia Ashrafia, a leading Islamic religious school, which ruled that Sharia law doesn’t permit the construction of a new temple in an Islamic state. Islamabad is home to about 3,000 Hindus.

According to Chaman Lal Punjab, coordinator of the Pakistan Hindu Youth Council, all of them are migrants from different provinces.

“They are still reluctant to openly celebrate the news and cite some issues. The government deserves appreciation but we are also taxpayers and law-abiding citizens. We demand freedom of religion for our community,” he told UCA News.

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