The incidence of an attempted murder of a pastor in Faisalabad, Pakistan has proven the vulnerability of religious minorities in the region.
Pastor Eleazar Sindhu, also known as Vicky was attacked on his way home from a church service in his local village of Kariwala after he removed Islamic writing from the external wall of his church building.
Pastor Vicky was reportedly confronted by a Muslim man who demanded that he recite the Islamic declaration of faith known as the Kalma. When Vicky responded by stating the Apostle’s Creed, the man shot at him and fled the scene.
Pastor Vicky was rushed to hospital for medical treatment and is now in stable condition, according to the Christian anti-persecution charity Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS). Vicky’s hospital statement claims he had been threatened by the same man a few days earlier.
The charity claims the attack was prompted by Vicky’s removal of Islamic writing from the front wall of Satyana Road Presbyterian Church. The pastor was notified of the Arabic inscriptions on 28th August. The writings were accompanied by derogatory remarks about him.
The church notified the authorities, who later came to remove the text from the wall. Pastor Vicky issued a public video to state that it was Muslim police officers who removed the text rather than church members, amid fears the incident could lead to threats of violence from the Muslim community.
The incident is one of many hostile moves in recent months against Christians in the Punjab region. On 16th August at least 25 churches were targeted in Jaranwala, Faisalabad for blasphemy allegations.
On 5th September a pastor in the Punjab region filmed a video addressing the escalating tension in the region after blasphemy accusations were made against a Christian resident in the local mosque. Pastor Akhtar stated in his video “We are in danger. The police force should be immediately sent for our protection.”
CLAAS argues these increasing attacks are forcing Christians out of Pakistan.
Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, has condemned the attack on Pastor Eleazar and called for justice against his assailant. CLAAS is calling for the government to take robust measures.