Christian women face death penalty in Pakistan after removing 'Quran sticker' from locker during cleaning

Christian women face death penalty in Pakistan after removing 'Quran sticker' from locker during cleaning
Two Christian women face the death sentence in Pakistan after they removed from a locker, a sticker with a Quran verse on it whilst cleaning.
2 min read
12 April, 2021
The hospital is in Faisalabad [Getty]

Two Christian women are facing the death penalty in Pakistan after they removed a sticker that featured a verse from the Quran from a colleague’s locker they were cleaning.

The two women, nurses Maryam Lal and Newsh Urooj had been asked to tidy the locker of a head nurse at District Headquarters Hospital in Faisalabad and they scratched off the Quran verse with a pen, according to a report by The Times.

The pair were reported to the police by Dr Mirza Muhammad Ali, and they were detained by police under a section of the blasphemy law.

Both nurses are currently in custody at Civil Lines Police Station, after a violent mob appeared at their hospital and local authorities intervened for their safety.

"Labbayk ya Rasool-Allah [Here I am at your service, O Messenger of Allah]" and "Beheading the only punishment for blasphemer" chanted protesters gathered on April 9 in the emergency department of Civil Hospital.

During the riots, Lal was reportedly stabbed by a colleague who worked at the hospital.

A boy in the hospital reportedly confessed to wounding Lal in a knife attack, according to UCAN News.

"That filthy daughter of a b****, a Christian staff, tore away a sticker inscribed with Durood Shareef [a salutation for Prophet Muhammad] from the cupboard," he said during a meeting with hospital officials.

"I asked her why she did it. A Muslim can’t keep quiet against blasphemy to his prophet. You are all Muslims. I attacked her with a knife, wounding her arm. I would have killed her. My life is to serve."

Police have launched an investigation into the incident, and it is believed that a far-right Islamist group called TLP encouraged the violence, and people were calling on the pair to be hanged.

Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws that carry strict death sentences for offenses, including insulting the Prophet Mohammed and disparaging the holy book, the Quran.

It is not the first time that Pakistan’s women were caught in the crosshairs of blasphemy laws.

A Pakistani judge last month ordered a probe against the organisers of a Women's Day march over allegations they had been blasphemous.

The police order by the judge in the city of Peshwar follows a petition lodged by a group of lawyers who alleged that women part-taking in the march in Islamabad had used slogans and placards that were "un-Islamic and obscene".
Claims included that one banner insulted Prophet Muhammad and his wife.

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