A pastor was shot and wounded by hardline Muslims earlier this month in Jaranwala, Pakistan, just two weeks after churches and Christian properties in the area were destroyed by an Islamist-inspired mob.
Rev Eleazar Sidhu was returning home with an assistant after pastoral visits to church members on 3 September when two men stopped him.
“One of the attackers pulled out a pistol and asked me to recite the Islamic Kalima, [profession of faith],” he was able to state afterwards in the First Information Report (FIR) filed at the Saddar Police Station in Jaranwala.
“When I refused and instead started to recite the Apostles’ Creed, the man opened fire, resulting in a bullet wound on the upper half of my chest [on the shoulder]. The assailants fled after the attack.”
The incident came a week after Islamist slogans were written on the walls of his church building, sources said. Pastor Sidhu said he had received threats after police helped him to remove the graffiti.
He said: “My congregation was already fearful after the attacks in various colonies in Jaranwala, but they panicked when our church walls were vandalised on 28 August. However, the timely intervention of the police and deployment of personnel had instilled some sense of security in the village.”
Minorities Alliance Pakistan Chairman Advocate Akmal Bhatti condemned the attack on the pastor, saying it had increased fear among Christians in Faisalabad District. He added that the operation to remove the bullet from Sidhu had been successful and, although he had lost a lot of blood, he was out of danger.
Mobs incited by a hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan attacked churches and homes of Christian residents in Jaranwala on 16 August. Numerous churches were set on fire and homes and businesses were ransacked for hours while police were silent spectators, triggering worldwide condemnation.