Pakistan - Authorities for Pakistan Railway have confiscated a church building in Lahore after Muslim leaders complained about the church ringing its bells and using loudspeakers to call Christians to prayer. Railways St. Andrew's Church was seized on April 28, and Christian employees of the Railway have been protesting the confiscation of their church property vehemently for the last several weeks. The Church Committee told ICC that the authorities had originally granted Christians written permission to use the building on Sundays for worship services. However, when the church began using its bells and loudspeakers to invite Christians to morning and evening prayer services, Muslim leaders complained that the church was interfering with their five-times a day call to prayer and thus insulting Islam. On April 28, Christians arrived at the church to find the doors sealed shut with a notice prohibiting anyone from entering the building. Christians responded by conducting a hunger strike and demonstrating in front of the Lahore Press Club for the next several days. At the last report, this situation had not been resolved, and Muslim officers were instead trying to obtain permission to demolish the church so that they can build another mosque. Christian leaders are also being threatened with prosecution under Pakistan's infamous Blasphemy Laws. Most of the Christians who attended the church are employed to clean the sewage from Railway buildings and are very poor. They continue to protest the confiscation of the church by staging sit-in strikes and additional hunger strikes. Please contact the director of public relations for Pakistan Railway and ask them to re-open Railways St. Andrew's Church. Pakistan Railway Headquarters Director of Public Relations, Mrs. Durre Shahwar Phone: +92-042-9201778 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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