(AsiaNews) - At least 11 nurses, including three Christians, were poisoned at Civil
Hospital Karachi for eating during Ramadan. During their afternoon break yesterday,
the 11 nurses went to the hostel cafeteria for some tea and food. Rita, a
Catholic nurse, collapsed first after drinking her tea. Now all the nurses are
in the hospital's intensive care unit, some in very serious conditions.
In Pakistan, eating in public during the Muslim month
of fasting is illegal. For Muslims, fasting is compulsory. However, hospital
workers and travellers are exempt.
Civil Hospital Karachi staff is made up mostly of Muslims
who do not tolerate that their non-Muslim colleagues eat during Ramadan.
In the wake of the incident, hospital officials have
opened an inquiry to find the culprits.
The Masihi Foundation, a Christian rights
organisation, and Life for All have condemned the incident, calling it a "vile
act" against religious freedom and tolerance.
Political and religious leaders have also slammed the
action. For Sindh Saleem Khokahr, a
member of the Provincial Assembly and president of the All Pakistan Minorities
Alliance, "poisoning someone for eating in Ramadan is a barbaric act and must
be condemned. There are many Muslims who do not fast during Ramadan. These
nurses were poisoned for eating in their cafeteria, not in public."
"This act reveals that our society lacks tolerance,"
said Fr Nasir William, a priest in Karachi diocese. It is scandalous that "nurses
who save the lives of the people are fighting for their own lives due to some
For the clergyman, the authorities should launch an
investigation for attempted murder.