Pastor attacked by Hindu mob served deportation notice as he leaves hospital
Joseph W. Cooper, who was attacked and stabbed by a Hindu mob last week after leaving a church convention in southern India, has now been ordered by government officials to leave the country.
"We have served orders to Cooper to leave the country within seven days for preaching while on a tourist visa and thereby violating visa rules," police superintendent T.K. Vinod Kumar said. "The order has been personally served to Cooper at the hospital where he is recuperating after suffering injury in the attack."
Cooper says he didn't speak about any other religions at the gospel convention, which was organized by the Protestant "Friends of Bible" church outside Trivandrum, in Kerala province (map). "I am almost offended by this allegation that we are converting Hindus to Christianity," he earlier told Reuters. But a 1995 central order bans foreigners on tourist or student visas from speaking at any religious gathering, whether evangelistic or not.
"The government is letting Cooper off cheaply," complained Kummanam Rajashekharan, head of the World Hindu Council in Kerala province. "The U.S. missionary should have been arrested and prosecuted according to Indian law."
Cooper, who was attacked (along with five other Christians) with swords, iron bars, and sticks, now has a week to leave the country. Ten Hindu activists have been arrested so far. Police are looking for four more.
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