After Fatwa, Pastor in Pakistan Beaten with Bricks Convert, a former fighter in Afghanistan
By Brian MacDonald
SARGODHA, Pakistan, November 5 MPBS24/7 A CDN Reportâ Muslim extremists in Islamabad on Monday (Nov. 1) beat with bricks and hockey sticks a Christian clergyman who is the subject of a fatwa demanding his death.
The Rev. Dr. Suleman Nasri Khan, a former fighter in Afghanistan before his conversion to Christianity in 2000, suffered a serious head injury, a hairline fracture in his arm and a broken bone in his left ankle in the assault by 10 Muslim extremists; he was able to identify two of them as Allama Atta-Ullah Attari and Allama Masaud Hussain.
The attack in Chashma, near Iqbal Town in Islamabad, followed Islamic scholar Allama Nawazish Aliâs Oct. 25th fatwa (religious ruling) to kill Khan, pastor of Power of the Healing Godâs Church in the Kalupura area of Gujrat city. A mufti (Islamic scholar) and member of Dawat-e-Islami, which organizes studies of the Quran and Sunnah (sayings and deeds of Muhammad), Ali is authorized to issue fatwas.
Khan, 34, had relocated to a rented apartment in Islamabad after fleeing his home in Gujrat because of death threats against him and his family, he said. The fatwa, a religious order to be obeyed by all Muslims, was issued after Khan protested anti-Christian violence in Kalupura last month.
Muslim extremists who learned of his conversion had first attacked Khan in 2008 â killing his first child, 3-month old Sana Nasri Khan. He and wife Aster Nasri Khan escaped.
âDuring the Kalupura Christian colony attacks, once again it came into the attention of Muslim men that I was a converted Christian who had recanted Islam, deemed as humiliation of Islam by them,â Khan said.
In this weekâs attack, Khan also sustained minor rib injuries and several minor cuts and bruises. He said the Muslim radicals pelted him with stones and bricks while others kicked him in the chest and stomach. They also tried to force him to recite Islamâs creed for conversion; he refused.
On Monday night (Nov. 1) Khan had gone out to buy milk for a daughter born on July 19 â named after the daughter who was killed in 2008, Sana Nasri Khan â when during the wee hours of the night five unidentified Muslim extremists began kicking and pounding on the door.
âWhen my wife asked who they were, they replied, âWe have learned that you have disgraced Islam by recanting, therefore we will set your house on fire,â Khan told Compass. âWhen my wife told them that I was not at home, they left a letter threatening to torch the house and kill my whole family and ordered me to recant Christianity and embrace Islam.â
Khan had sold some of his clothes at a pawnshop in order to buy milk for the baby, as he has been financially supporting six Christian families from his congregation who are on a Muslim extremist hit list. Islamic militants have cordoned off parts of Kalupura, patrolling the area to find and kill the families of Allah Rakha Masih, Boota Masih, Khalid Rehmat, Murad Masih Gill, Tariq Murad Gill and Rashid Masih.
Often feeding her 5-month-old daughter water mixed with salt and sugar instead of milk or other supplements, Aster Nasri Khan said she was ready to die of starvation for the sake of Jesus and His church. Before her beaten husband was found, she said she had heard from neighbors that some Muslim men had left him unconscious on a roadside, thinking he was dead.
The Rev. Arif Masih of Power of the Healing Godâs Church in Islamabad told Compass that he was stunned to find Khan unconscious in a pool of blood on the roadside. Saying he couldnât go to police or a hospital out of fear that Muslims would level apostasy charges against Khan under Pakistani law, Masih said he took him to the nearby private clinic of Dr. Naeem Iqbal Masih. Khan received medical treatment there while remaining unconscious for almost four hours, Masih said.
Born into a Muslim family, Khan had joined the now-defunct Islamic militant group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which later emerged as Jaish-e-Muhammad, fighting with them for eight and half years in Kashmir and Afghanistan.
While fighting in Afghanistanâs civil war in 2000, he said, he found a New Testament lying on the battlefield. He immediately threw it away, but a divine voice seemed to be extending an invitation to him, he said. When he later embraced Christ, he began preaching and studying â ending up with a doctorate in biblical theology from Punjab Theological Seminary in Kasur in 2005.
Upon learning of the Oct. 25 fatwa against him, Khan immediately left Gujrat for Islamabad, he said. He was living in hiding in Chashma near Iqbal Town when Muslims paid his landlord, Munir Masih, to reveal to them that Khan was living at his house as a tenant, he said. A young Christian whose name is withheld for security reasons informed Khan of the danger on Oct. 29, he said.
The young Christian told him that Munir Masih revealed his whereabouts to Allama Atta-Ullah Attari, a member of Dawat-e-Islami.
Khan said he confided to Christian friends about the dangers before him, and they devised a plan to hide his family in Bara Koh, a small town near Islamabad.
âBut as I had sold and spent everything to help out Kalupura Christians,â he said, âI was penniless and therefore failed to move on and rent a house there.â