Nurse Sakina Mehtab said she was stunned to see videos of her Muslim colleagues marching on hospital premises in Lahore, Pakistan last week, shouting Islamist slogans and accusing her of blasphemy.
She has since gone into hiding after receiving anonymous calls threatening to “maim and kill” her over the false allegation.
Mehtab had shared a video on WhatsApp of a Pakistani Muslim in Paris criticizing the response of Pakistani people and officials to a European Union Parliament resolution. Her Muslim colleagues mislabelled it as critical of Islam.
Source: Morning Star News
“There was no religious element in it, but a group of nurses spread lies that the video was anti-Islamic and accused me of blasphemy,” said Mehtab, due to retire from the Punjab Institute of Mental Health (PIMH) in Lahore in two years.
“My life has been put at serious risk with this false allegation, and I don’t know how I’ll be able to resume work at the hospital with the fear that someone might attack me from nowhere.”
Hours after she shared the video, a large group of Muslim nurses and paramedical staff, some armed with clubs and sticks, staged a protest rally. Witnesses said the protestors intimidated Christian workers in hospital wards and repeatedly tried to provoke them into fights. There are about 345 Christians in the 600-strong workforce.
The protestors then stormed into a hospital auditorium that Christian staff members and patients use for worship and prayer, desecrated Bibles and other property and asserted that there would be no more Christian prayer gatherings there, she said.
“The Christian workers showed great wisdom by controlling their emotions, otherwise the situation could have turned very violent,” another Christian nurse said.
She said the timely intervention of security agencies forced PIMH Executive Director Muhammad Ashraf to designate a one-person ‘committee’ to inquire into the conflict – but that the person chosen, Nursing Superintendent Khalida Sulehri, was biased.
“The committee was a farce because Sulehri herself was involved in the dangerous propaganda against Sakina and had encouraged the Muslim workers to take out the protest rally,” she said.
Ashraf told a delegation of Muslim and Christian representatives on Monday 3 May, that the issue had resulted from a “misunderstanding”. “Sakina and the other Christian nurses have apologised for sharing the controversial video, and that issue is sorted,” he claimed, declining to say what action might be taken against those who made the false allegations.
The European Parliament on 30 April adopted a resolution calling for a review of Pakistan’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences status, which provides preferential access to EU markets through reduced tariffs, in view of an “alarming” increase in blasphemy accusations in the country, as well as rising a number of attacks on journalists and civil society organisations.
The resolution also calls on the government to “unequivocally condemn” incitement to violence and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan.
Repealing or amending Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is unlikely due to fierce Islamist sentiments in the Muslim-majority country, rights advocates say.
Let us pray.
- Ask for the Lord’s leading and protection for Sakina as she comes to terms with the situation and considers her future.
- Pray the conduct and witness of Sakina and other local Christians may be powerfully used by the Lord as a witness for the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
- Pray the Pakistani authorities may seriously consider the flaws in the blasphemy laws and make reasonable changes.