09/05/2023, 12.36
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Christian pastor shot in Faisalabad: Persecution continues post Jaranwala

by Shafique Khokhar

Eliezer Sidhu, head of a Presbyterian church, was first forced to recite Quranic verses. After the attack he was rushed to the hospital, from where he explained that those responsible for the attack are the same ones who have been smearing the walls of churches with Islamic writing for weeks. Human rights defenders say this is one of the worst times ever for Christians in Pakistan.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - After the attacks in mid-August on the churches and Christians of Jaranwala for false accusations of blasphemy, the persecution of the Christian community continues: on 3 September the pastor Eliezer Sidhu (Vicky), head of the Presbyterian Church in Satyana Road was was shot while walking home in Rehmat Khanuana town, Faisalabad province. T

he pastor explained that the attacker first forced him to recite some verses from the Koran; when he refused to say them, the man shot the pastor in the right arm and fled the scene. The pastor survived but was rushed to hospital.

Msgr Indrias Rehmat, bishop of the diocese of Faisalabad, spoke to the superintendent of police, asking that the person responsible be arrested. The agents explained that they had recorded an initial information report.

Human rights defenders met Pastor Vicky and his family at the public hospital in Faisalabad, where the pastor is currently being treated. The pastor then explained that the attackers are the same ones who painted Islamic slogans on the church wall at the end of last month.

After the Jaranwala attacks of August 16, during which over 20 churches and over 800 Christian homes were stormed and at least 10,000 Christians forced to flee, false accusations of blasphemy against local Christians by extremists continued Muslims, who in Karachi, Sarghodha and Rawalpindi have daubed the walls of Christian places of worship with Islamic writing.

Through legal actions, interreligious dialogues and advocacy activities, the Churches and various volunteers are working to combat discrimination against Christians.

Pakistan's faithful community has expressed great concern about the current situation: threats and false accusations of blasphemy are also reaching social media, while some religious fanatics are also launching accusatory messages through the city's loudspeakers.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), told AsiaNews: "While we ask to establish a policy and a mechanism to resolve the clashes, no one has taken strong measures against the elements who are spreading hatred towards religious minorities.

Religious fanatics have become more violent since police filed an initial intelligence report against some of Jaranwala's attackers. People who spread anti-Christian hate messages should also be included in the list of those who carried out the attacks."

Lala Robin Daniel, a well-known human rights defender from Faisalabad, added that Christians are facing one of the worst moments in their history in Pakistan: "We ask the government to take protective measures for the safety of the Christian community and take serious action to put an end to the series of violence”.

Many videos that have gone viral on social media call for violent actions against Christians, the activist pointed out: "The attack on pastor Eliezer Sidhu and the constant threats are another example of persecution of Christians in Pakistan. Christian leaders must continue to raise their voices for our equal citizenship and obtaining equal rights."

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