By BosNewsLife Africa Service
ADDIS ABABA/MOGADISHU (BosNewsLife)– A well-known church leader from the unrecognized African state of Somaliland required medical treatment Tuesday, August 24, after he survived an attack by two Muslim extremists in neighboring Ethiopia, rights activists said.
Mohamed Ali Garas, a convert from Islam, was attacked Saturday, August 21, by two Somali Muslim men while returning home in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, where he currently lives, said advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
Garas reportedly went to meet them after they first called his name. However soon after, “one of the men struck him on the head with a wooden club. Garas fell on the ground and continued to be hit. The other Muslim man joined in, kicking Garas in the chest and stomach,” CSW said in a statement. “The Muslim men fled after an Ethiopian neighbor came to the scene.” ICC said.
Garas is being treated at Meghbar Senai Hospital in the Shola neighborhood of Addis Ababa after doctors established that his kneecap seems to be damaged. “He will undergo more exams and x-rays to find out the extent [of his injuries]. The local police are currently investigating the attack.”
Garas said in published remarks that the attackers “purposefully hit him on his right leg” as they apparently knew he had broken his right thigh bone seven years ago in an accident. His broken bone has been healing for the last three years since he had reconstructive surgery, Christians said.
Garas fled to Ethiopia from Somaliland in August 2005 after authorities there attempted to arrest him, Christians said. “He was then the most visible church leader in Somaliland. He moved to a new neighborhood in Addis Ababa 22 days ago because Somali Muslim men had threatened to physically attack him in his old neighborhood,” ICC added.
Christians said the attack is the latest in a series of attacks against against Christians from Somaliland and Somalia, living in Ethiopia. On July 16, five Somali Muslims reportedly beat a Somali Christian convert in Addis Ababa. Also, on September 20, 2008 Muslims beat a 35-year-old Somali Christian leader, according to Christians.
ICC quoted an unidentified Somali pastor in the Ethiopian capital as saying that the latest attack was “an apparent attempt to scare the Somali Christian community in Addis Ababa who consider Ethiopia a safe haven from religious persecution.”
In Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia, and Somalia itself Christians also face deadly attacks by militants including Al-Shabab, which on Tuesday, August 24, claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, that killed at least 32 people, nearly half of them lawmakers.
Al-Shabab seeks to establish a state based on strict Islamic law, or Sharia, and has killed several Christians. United States President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said Tuesday, August 24, that the latest attack by the Al-Shabab militant group “is a particularly outrageous act during the Islamic month of Ramadan.”
“Al-Shabab’s vision for Africa stands in sharp contrast to the vision of the overwhelming majority of Africans,” Brennan told reporters at the White House press briefing.
The U.S. has declared al-Shabab to be a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida. Brennan said the U.S. is closely monitoring its efforts to recruit new members from U.S. communities, the Associated Press news agency reported.