Two Pakistani Christian nurses were arrested in Punjab's Faisalabad City and charged with blasphemy after a complaint was filed against them by hospital staff on April 8.
While nurse Maryam Lal and 3rd-year student nurse Navish Arooj were working in Civil Hospital, Arooj reportedly wrote on a sticker inscribed with Durood Shareef (verses from the Holy Quran), according to the United Kingdom-based nonprofit Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).
Two Pakistani Christian nurses charged with committing blasphemy https://t.co/2A4lobAuuu
— CLAAS (@CLAASUK) April 10, 2021
Arooj was accused of removing the religious sticker, then handing it to Lal. A complaint was filed with the police against both nurses by a Muslim nurse named Rukhsana. An inquiry committee was also formed to further investigate the incident.
CLAAS reports that a Muslim ward boy identified as Muhammad Waqas saw Arooj remove the sticker and tear it up. He claimed that the nurses committed a blasphemous act and used abusive language toward the women.
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In the video, Waqas reportedly asked a room full of employees, "Would you or anyone remain silent in the face of a blasphemy against our holy prophet Muhammad?" Waqas then admitted to attacking Lal with a knife but the blade broke and he only injured her arm.
An angry mob gathered outside the hospital and threatened to kill the two nurses when police officers arrived to arrest them, according to a video posted by Pak Adam TV Ministries.
Additionally, charges were filed under section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code against both nurses. The criminal code states that whoever "willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur'an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life."
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS, said he is concerned over the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy laws.
"This is not the first incident of this kind, but in the past, we have seen how people use this law to settle their personal grudges or punish their rivals," Saeed said.
He said people like Waqas are motivated to take the law into their own hands as a result of the government's failure to act.
Saeed added, "Pakistani politicians and Islamic Scholars must sit together and make changes or bring the new legislation to stop the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law."
As CBN News has reported, in Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are common and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Such accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark Muslim mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests. Currently, at least 24 Christians are imprisoned on blasphemy charges in Pakistan.
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, blasphemy laws are astonishingly widespread throughout the world. Seventy-one countries spread out across many regions, maintain such statutes.
Pakistan is ranked 5th on Open Doors' 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.