On April 9th, Maryam Lal and Navish Arooj were directed by a senior nurse to clean up the walls of the Civil Hospital in Faisalabad, Pakistan, by removing any wall hangings or stickers found. When the Christians did as they were told, they were accused of desecrating wall hangings containing verses from the Quran. The two nurses have now been formally charged with blasphemy against Islam.
According to the complaint, the head nurse who gave the order to clean the walls, Rukhsana, claims that she saw Navish scribble on a sticker containing Quranic verses and then strip it from the wall before handing it to Maryam. Reports on the incident suggest that Rukhsana held a previous grudge against Maryam and had instigated the situation.
Another hospital worker, Muhammad Waqas, claims that he saw Navish rip up a religious sticker after being instructed to do so by Maryam. After asking the nurses to explain their actions, he was allegedly told, "Who are you to ask me?" He then attacked Maryam with a knife, injuring her arm and causing her to flee the hospital.
The police complaint was officially filed by Dr. Mirza Muhammad Ali after making inquiries from the staff. In response, mobs demanding the death of the two nurses converged on the hospital. Thankfully, a large police contingent arrived and took the two women into custody, an action that likely saved their lives.
False accusations of blasphemy are widespread in Pakistan, often motivated by personal vendettas, business dealings or religious hatred. Such accusations are highly inflammatory and frequently result in mob violence and mass protests. For more on the difficult situations facing Pakistan's Christian community, go to our country report.
Please pray for justice and mercy to be extended to Maryam and Navish, and that those responsible for the false allegations will realize the error of their ways. May God grant these accused sisters-in-Christ the strength to persevere in their faith as they endure the trials ahead of them. Pray that they will have opportunities to serve as testimonies of Christ's love and grace to their accusers and captors, as well as to all whom they encounter while in custody, bringing many others to faith in Him.