Two Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan released on bail
According to Morning Star News, two Christian nurses accused of blasphemy in Pakistan received bail and were released from prison in September. The decision was kept secret for almost two months to avoid backlash from Islamists, including the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan political party.
On the 23rd of September, Mariam Lal and Nawish Arooj were granted bail by a sessions court in Faisalabad. Those charged with blasphemy in Pakistan usually languish in jail for years until the appeals process is exhausted.
“This is an unprecedented decision by any sessions court in a blasphemy case,” attorney Atif Jamil Paggan told Morning Star News. Paggan added the bail decision was kept secret due to concerns over possible reprisals by extremists.
On the 9th of April, Lal and Arooj, two Christian nurses working at Civil Hospital in Faisalabad, were falsely accused of committing blasphemy. Local sources report Lal was directed to remove old wall hangings and stickers from a wall by Rukhsana, a senior nurse at the hospital. Following Rukhsana’s instructions, Lal removed the wall-hangings and stickers.
Rukhsana, who reportedly held a grudge against Lal, provoked other Muslim staffers at Civil Hospital by claiming Lal desecrated wall hangings that contained Quranic verses. In response, a Muslim staffer at the hospital’s pharmacy, named Waqas, attacked Lal with a knife as she was attending a patient in the hospital’s medical ward. Lal received several injuries to her arm but survived the attack.
News of the false blasphemy allegation against Lal spread to the broader community and a mob of enraged Muslims staged a protest outside of Civil Hospital. Members of the mob demanded Lal be arrested and hanged for committing blasphemy.