Published: 11:15 GMT Daylight Time - Tuesday 10 May 2011
Son shot in face after pastor threatened by Islamists in Pakistan
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
The son of a Pakistani pastor, who has received death threats from an Islamist organisation that is trying to stop his Christian activities, was severely injured in a drive-by shooting.
Pastor’s son Sarfraz Ashraf
was shot in the face and hip
Pastor Ashraf Paul (55) was travelling by van with his wife Rubina Ashraf (45) and their eldest son Sarfraz Ashraf (23) on 27 April when two youths on a motorbike started chasing their vehicle. The attackers, whose faces were covered with black cloth, opened fire, and Sarfraz, who was driving the van, was shot through the windscreen in the face and hip. He was rushed to hospital, where he underwent surgery to remove the bullets. Sarfraz is now recovering; Pastor Ashraf and Rubina escaped unharmed.
The attack follows threats against Pastor Ashraf by a Pakistani Islamic organisation, Tehreek-e-Gazi Bin Shaheed (TGBS). They warned him to stop his Christian activities; they also demanded that he pay the equivalent of around £7,000 (US$12,000, AUS$11,000, NZ$15,000, €8,000) as the Islamic jizya - a humiliating "poll tax" demanded of non-Muslims citizens - or else they would kill him and his family.
Pastor Ashraf, who has four sons, received a threatening, five-page letter on 30 March, and the family has been continually harassed with frightening phone calls and text messages. But he has refused to cede to their demands.
Following his conversion to Christianity in 1970, Ashraf trained as a pastor and now serves congregations in Kashmore, Sadiq Abad and Lahore. He is also well known for his Christian poetry and books, which he writes to encourage young believers in their faith. In 2004, Pastor Ashraf and his wife started a high school in their home, providing free education to Christian children from poor families. They went on to start a primary school for Christian children in Sadiq Abad and are constructing a high school for Christian boys in Lahore.
CLAAS, a Pakistani Christian legal centre supported by Barnabas Aid, is assisting Pastor Ashraf and his family. They said that Christians in Pakistan have been in a "very critical situation" following the burning of a Quran by a church in Florida:
Christian churches and other properties have been targeted and pastors are under life threats by religious extremists.
CLAAS requested prayers for Pastor Ashraf's family, who are currently in hiding:
May God save them in His own safe hands. And give speedy recovery to Sarfraz Ashraf from his injuries.
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