Church in university campus not un-Islamic: Pak court

Islamabad, Pakistan - A Pakistan court has ruled that a church within an educational institution in a Muslim country is not against the tenets of Islam, which teaches tolerance.

"There is no ban on the construction or reconstruction of a mosque in non-Muslim countries around the world. Being Muslim, we should be tolerant, as Islam teaches us the same," Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court Tariq Pervaz Khan said yesterday while hearing a writ petition filed by two students.

The petitioners, Salahuddin and Murtaza, had challenged the reconstruction of a church in Christians colony inside the University of Peshawar campus. The church was damaged in the mid-80s when some students attacked it.

They contended that the worship places of minorities could not be allowed in educational institutions of Islamic countries where the Muslims were in a majority and that it would "trigger sectarianism" among students of minorities and Muslims and lead to similar demands from other groups.

They withdrew their petition after the court observed that construction or reconstruction of the church is not un-Islamic.

The court asked: "Why did the head of a religious party's government allocate funds and attend the reconstruction ceremony as a chief guest, if the church's construction were un-Islamic?"

NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani on December 19, last year laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the church, terming it as a gift from the ruling MMA, which is an Islamist alliance. He also announced Rs 3 million aid for the reconstruction work.

The petitioners' counsel also accepted that Muslims were given facilities at the missionary schools.