By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A Christian chief of a major hostel for nursing students in the Pakistani city of Lahore faced possible dismissal Wednesday, March 11, after she already receiving death threats from Muslim colleagues and militants for allowing Christian students to pray and worship on the hostel’s premises, a Christian rights and advocacy group said.
‘Christian Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement’(CLAAS) told BosNewsLife that Purses Gulzarene, who is also a senior lecturer at the nearby Children Hospital Lahore, has supervised some 80 Christian girls and 400 Muslim girls earning their Bachelors degree in Nursing and Midwifery.
Gulzarene came under pressure after protests against her decision to allocate a chapel to Christian girls for worship and prayer, CLAAS said. Christians reportedly asked Gulzarene for a separate room as Muslim students also received their own place for religious services.
A “Muslim trainee doctor”, identified only as Naila, backed by Muslim militants, opposed the move and sucessfully began a campaign against Gulzarene, accussing her of preaching Christianity and “forcing Muslim girls to embrace Christianity,” CLAAS said. “Islam is in grave danger under a Christian administration,” Naila was quoted as saying.
Two Christian assistants of Gulzarene have meanwhile been removed, and replaced by Muslims, CLAAS said. “Hospital authorities are also mulling over to replace Mrs. Purses Gulzarene, as well,” the group added.
Gulzarene has reportedly told rights investigators that she received phone calls of people threatening to kill her. CLAAS said hospital authorities “are helpless in this regard and they have warned Mrs. Gulzarene that Islamic militants are searching for her.”
The latest incident came nearly a month after the Christian head of another hostel and two Christian students from a nearby medical college in Pakistan’s Punjab province were expelled after Islamic extremists wanted to kill them on “false” charges of “desecrating the Koran”, seen as a holy book by Muslims, Christian leaders told BosNewsLife.
The Christian hostel warden Martha was dismissed and two fellow Christian nursing students, Ammara and Sittara, expelled from ‘Fatima Memorial Hospital College of Medicine and Dentistry’ (FMHCMD) in Shadman town, part of the provincial capital Lahore, officials said. They only identified their first names, apparently for security concerns.
There has been concern over growing Islamic extremism against minority Christians in Pakistan.