Pakistan: false blasphemy charges against Christian nurses multiply
by Shafique Khokhar

In the Mental Government Hospital in Lahore, false accusations of blasphemy, the Nursing Superintend Khalida Suleri organized a group of Muslim nurses and occupied the church located inside the hospital. James Channan OP clarified the facts and informed the superior authorities of the Punjab police.


Lahore (AsiaNews) - In the space of four months in Pakistan there have been three episodes of false accusations of blasphemy against Christian nurses. It started with the incident of Nurse Tabita from Karachi then Mariam Lal and Nehwish Urooj from Faisalabad were accused of tearing a sticker and now another recent incident took place in the Mental Government Hospital, Jail Road, Lahore, in the province of Punjab, Pakistan.

On April 29, 2021, three Christian nurses Sakina Bibi, Jessica Khurram and Treeza Eric were on duty in the Mental Government Hospital, Jail Road, Lahroe and they were falsely accused that they were insulting Islam. The incident began the day before when one of the Christian nurses had shared a video of a person in which he had been speaking about the situation of Pakistan due to Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) to a WhatsApp group of medical staff of the Hospital. The same video became the source of blasphemous charges against her along with two other Christian nurses.

In response the Nursing Superintendent Khalida Suleri organized a group of Muslim staff and went to the Church located inside the hospital and said their Islamic prayers organizing a rally against Christian staff while threatening Christian nurses.

The Hospital Church was allocated in 2019, at the requested of the Christian Nurses staff to the Secretary Health of Punjab, to allow staff and patients to celebrate Christmas in the premises of the hospital.

There are 700 employees working in the hospital among whom there are 339 staffers including 105 nurses who are Christian and they are given permission to pray for 30 minutes’ once a week by the hospital administration.

Christians in Pakistan have served their country in various fields, especially in education, nursing and in the field of charity. Since Pakistan was founded, Christians have played an important role in the field of nursing, having many hospitals that have set an extraordinary example of loving humanity towards those whom no one wants to care for or even touch. One of the great examples is the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center (MALC) in Karachi, Pakistan, run by Dr. Ruth Pfau, who has been working in the field of leprosy control since 1956.

 

Country Coordinator of Human Liberation Commission Pakistan Holland, Nadeem Samuel said he found no offense against Islam in the video, and Mr. Aslam Pervaiz Sahotra investigated and asked Sakina and Jessica about this incident. According to the nurses, Mr. Samuel said, some Muslim nurses hate Christian nurses and face discrimination even in their work.

 

James Channan OP, a famous and well-known figure in interreligious dialogue, also met the nurses, clarified the real facts of this incident and promptly informed the higher authorities of the Punjab police. He asked the authorities to provide protection for Christian nurses. He also reassured the nurses for their safety. He also asked both sides not to make any further statements or complaints against each other. Christians will continue to use this auditorium for weekly worship as before.

Recently, the accused nurses were granted a month's leave from the hospital and thanks to the priest, social activist and government officials no charges (FIR) were filed for this bogus case. Now, with the intervention of government officials, Catholic priests and social activists, the church in the hospital is once again used for the church. But on the other hand, Christian nurses from Pakistan from different cities have come forward and started to raise their voices for their protection and dignity, expressing deep reservations about these cases of false blasphemy allegations.

Madam Rosaline, one of the senior nurse from Karachi along with other nurses have condemned this sad incident of occupying church and are requesting government to take notice against this type of incidents. Rosaline also said “we the Christian nurses have been serving the country peacefully and have never discriminated on the bases of religion. The type of incidents brings unrest among the people and destroys the peace of the country and nations gets destroyed where there is violence against the innocent people. Minorities are the responsibility of the Majority; they are less in number but are doing great service to all. Nursing is a profession which is acknowledged and appreciated by all, but what has been done here in our country, Christian nurses have given the foundation of greatness to this field in Pakistan but now other nurses are destroying the peaceful atmosphere and are trying to harass Christian nurses so that we Christian nurses may leave the jobs.”

Rosaline has also requested the Prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, Chief Justice and other government officials take the notice of this incident and uphold justice against the incident of Mental Hospital Lahore, providing protection to the Christian nurses everywhere in Pakistan.

 

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