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Pakistan Archbishop alarmed by decline in religious freedom

The Archbishop of Lahore has told the Aid to the Church in Need Catholic charity that Muslim anger over the US-led war in Iraq is having a serious impact on religious freedom in Pakistan.

"There is a lot of anger among Muslims here because of the war in Iraq," said Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha. "The general discrimination against Christians has also become stronger since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Pakistan has about 150 million inhabitants, 97% of them Muslims and 1% Christians, some 1.2 million of them Catholics.

Bishop Saldanha called the country's Catholic community "small, but very active. Our faithful come from the lower class of Pakistani society. Most of them are poor and even illiterate. In the small villages, they are mainly unskilled farm workers, and in the cities many of them work as street sweepers. That is why they are being looked down upon."

According to Archbishop Saldanha, education is a priority for the Catholic Church in Pakistan and in his archdiocese.

Discrimination against Christians has increased, bishop says (Aid to the Church in Need 5/7/04)

Britain prays for religious freedom in Pakistan ( 14/7/04)
Anti-Christian Bias Feared Rising in Pakistan (Zenit 5/7/04)

15 Jul 2004