Teacher shot dead at Swedish school in Yemen
Published: 19 Mar 2012 12:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Mar 2012 12:08 GMT+01:00
A teacher at a Swedish school in Yemen was gunned down by an unknown perpetrator on Sunday in an attack claimed by some to be a response to what is perceived as Christian proselytising.
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The school, ITDC (International Training and Development center) was opened in 1969 as a joint venture between the Pentecostal Church in Sundsvall, northern Sweden, and the Swedish Pentecostal Missionary movement.
The victim was the school’s English language teacher and deputy director, American Joel Shrun, who had been living in Taiz with his wife and two children since 2010.
“He was on his way from his home in his car when he was caught up by a motorcycle. They shot him through the window. It is terrible,” confirmed Ulf Edström, deputy head of the Pentecostal church in Sundsvall, to daily Expressen.
Soon after, a militant Islamist group which police believe is affiliated to al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), claimed he had been targeted because of his Christian "proselytizing", reported British paper The Guardian.
According to the paper, a text message which was dispatched to the press claimed that Shrun’s murder had been “a response to the campaign of Christian proselytizing that the west has launched against Muslims." Shrun was depicted as "one of the biggest American proselytizers".
Islamist militant groups often accuse western aid groups of covert religious missionary work, the paper said.
Edström told Expressen that the threat against the school had gotten worse lately.
“It’s been on and off, but people like our school. The American drone attacks in Yemen have made it worse, though. Al-Qaeda is searching for westerners,” he said.
The school, which offers vocational training, takes in some 300-350 students each year.
Edström told the paper that it is not a religious school, despite building on a Christian value system to help bring people out of social adversity and poverty.
According to him, the shooting is a tragedy for the school, but also for the people of Yemen.
”It is they who are suffering and are the most affected when militant groups try to kill those who want to help,” Edström told Expressen.