Islam Convert Pastor survives an apparent assassination attempt

Published 12 April 2006  |  
Kottayam, Kerala – In the southern state of Kerala, in the Kottayam district, Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohammed, who converted to Christianity from Islam was reportedly recovering from wounds caused by what he believes as a murder attempt.

On March 16, in Kottayam, Pastor Paul Ciniraj Mohammed was riding his motorbike past the office of district collector, when a motorized rickshaw rammed into him, fracturing his knee.

When Ciniraj filed a complaint at the Kottayam police station, police said they suspected the accident was an attempt to murder him. Ciniraj was hospitalized as a medical–legal case, but weeks later the police had not visited him nor arrested the driver of the rickshaw. Ciniraj said he felt the police were not taking the case seriously.

Ciniraj is the head of Salem Voice Ministries, which runs orphanages, village schools and adult literacy centers in Kerala state. He also runs a church in another district, Thiruvananthapuram, popularly known as Trivandrum.

Three days after the incident, while Ciniraj was still in the hospital, two men carrying weapons attempted to break into his house, apparently intending to attack his family.

“They came to my house at Devalogam, in Kottayam, on March 19, while my wife and two other children were sleeping inside,” said Ciniraj. A third child was visiting Ciniraj at the hospital.

The pastor’s wife, Mercy Ciniraj, woke suddenly at about 2:40 a.m. after hearing a strange noise outside the house. When she looked through a window, she saw two men with weapons standing at the front door.

When she tried to call the police, however, she discovered the telephone line had been cut. Terrified, she started shouting the name of Jesus. The noise startled neighbors, and lights were switched on. When the intruders realized this, they jumped back over the gate and fled.

Mercy Ciniraj informed the police, but at press time officers had apparently not visited the house to record details of the incident. It was also not clear whether Hindu or Muslim militants were responsible.

Ciniraj said he had suffered attacks several times over the past two years because of his evangelistic work among Hindus and Muslims.

In early November 2005, he organized a public convention in Kottayam district. A few Hindu extremists intruded and created a disturbance, asking Ciniraj and others present why they had organized the convention.

Kerala state has one of the highest concentrations of Christians in India, at 19 percent. Where Muslims account for 23 percent of the population in Kerala, and Hindus 57 percent. The majority of these Christians, however, belong to traditional churches that do not approve of evangelism among the other major religious groups.

Hindus account for about 80 percent of India's 1.1 billion people and Christians are less than three percent. Muslims make up around 14 percent but conversions between Hindus and Muslims are extremely rare.

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