Two Pakistani Christian nurses charged with blasphemy offences

On 9 April, in-charge nurse, Maryam Lal and third-year student nurse Navish Arooj working in Civil Hospital, Faisalabad, were charged with committing blasphemy.  

A first information report (FIR) under blasphemy law section 295-B, has been registered against Maryam and Navish after a complaint by Dr Mirza Muhammad Ali.  

In his written complaint he said while on his rounds of the Fatima ward with sanitary inspector Faisal Yaqoob, head Nurse Rukhsana told him that on April 8, Navish scribbled on a sticker inscribed with Durood Shareef (verses from the Holy Quran) that was displayed on the wall. After stripping it from the wall, she allegedly handed it to Mariam.

According to the Muslim head nurse Rukhsana, she saw Maryam doing this and snatched the piece of paper inscribed with holy verses from her hands. She said she took pictures of that sticker to use as evidence. Rukhsana said that since it was the end of the day and most of the staff had left and there was no uproar, saving both nurses from the outrage.

She added that on that day nobody questioned Maryam and Navish but no Muslim can tolerate such contemptuous acts against their holy book and the Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

To investigate the matter further, Dr Mirza and sanitary inspector Faisal formed an inquiry committee with the permission of Chaudhary Ghulam Sarwar, Master of Science (MS), Civil Hospital Faisalabad. 

In a video we have seen, a Muslim ward boy Muhammad Waqas has also alleged that Navish removed a religious sticker from a wall and tore it up on the call of her colleague Maryam. He claims that Maryam committed a blasphemous act that true Muslims cannot tolerate and used abusive language against the two Christian nurses.

In the video, he asks the public: «Would you or someone remain silent in front of a blasphemy against our holy prophet Muhammad»?

His audience in response raised slogans hailing the Prophet Muhammad and chanting against Maryam and Navish. 

According to Waqas when he asked Maryam, why she did this, “she told me rudely who are you to ask me?” then “I attacked her with a knife, but she was lucky, and was only injured”.

He went on to say that he wanted to kill Maryam on the spot because he loves his Holy Prophet (PBUH) and can sacrifice his life for his Prophet (PBUH).

In the video, Waqas can be seen provoking other Muslim staff members, who were supporting him. They were shouting and chanting words like Mashallah, Subhan Allah, Tehreek-i-Labbaik etc, so the situation in the hospital premises escalated.

In a video, one person is blaming the government of Pakistan saying the country is promoting blasphemers like Asia Bibi, who was acquitted by the Pakistan Supreme Court on 29 January 2019, and Tabeeta Gill, another Christian staff nurse working at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital, Karachi, who was accused of committing blasphemy on January 28, by her colleagues and has been relocated safely to European countries.

There was a huge crowd was gathered outside the Civil hospital with people shouting for Maryam and Navish to be killed. But the police responded quickly and handled things wisely. 

The case First Information Report (FIR) no. 347/21 under offence 295-B Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) has been registered at Civil Line police station against Maryam and Navish.  Both nurses are in police custody and police investigations are ongoing.