PAKISTAN NURSES ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY
Muslim colleagues have accused two Christian nurses in Pakistan of committing ‘blasphemy’ by removing a sticker that had a Qur’anic text written on it.
The nurse removed the sticker while cleaning the head nurse’s cupboard and gave it to the head nurse before finishing her night shift. The following morning the head nurse accused her of desecrating the inscription.
Staff nurse Maryam Lal was attacked and injured with a knife before police arrived at the Civil Hospital Faisalabad to take her and nursing student Newsh Arooj away from the building for their protection.
The women were subsequently charged with ‘blasphemy’ under section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which relates to the deliberate damage, defilement or desecration of the Qur’an and carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
The President of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan, Bishop Azad Marshall – who was elected Moderator of the Church of Pakistan on 14 May – called for the nurses’ immediate release. ‘The two women were implicated in a false case by a co-worker who bore a grudge against them,’ he said.
Mere allegations of ‘blasphemy’ are enough to destroy the lives of the accused and their families, Bishop Azad said. ‘This lawlessness and miscarriage of justice is instilling fear and insecurity in our community and I urge the government to address this issue. People never imagined that nurses would be treated this way. Nurses are often Christians because they are willing to take this role. We have asked the Supreme Court to review the relevant laws. No Christian counsellor has been allowed to assist the girls. But those making these false claims in the name of God are the real blasphemers. The blatant abuse of the law has imperilled the lives of all Pakistanis irrespective of their faiths.
‘The law should be amended so that the First Information Reports in all blasphemy cases are registered only after permission from the concerned government before the courts can take cognisance of them,’ he added.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged Western countries to outlaw blasphemy of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad thus globalising Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
The Anadolu News Agency reported that Imran Khan said he is going to launch a campaign seeking Muslim countries’ support to raise the issues of blasphemy and Islamophobia at international forums, including the UN and the EU.
‘When we begin a campaign by bringing together all Muslim countries [against Islamophobia and blasphemy], it will make a difference and change will come in the West.’
‘There will come a time when people in the Western countries will think twice before disrespecting the Holy Prophet,’ Khan went on to say.
Khan, in a series of Tweets, said: ‘I call on Western governments who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalize those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet.’