Two Christian woman are facing the death penalty in Pakistan for removing a sticker with a verse from the Koran from a Muslim colleague’s locker they were asked to clean.

A mob gathered at the District Headquarters Hospital in Faisalabad demanding nurses Maryam Lal and Newsh Urooj are hanged after the pair were accused of blasphemy.

The women told police they had been asked to tidy the locker of the head nurse and they had scratched off the sticker containing the holy text with a pen, The Times reports.

During the riots Lal was reportedly stabbed by a fellow hospital worker and police were forced to intervene to rescue the two women as the mob tried to kill them.

After rescuing the women, the police confirmed an investigation had been launched into the incident and the pair had remanded for 15 days.

Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a far-right Islamist party which opposes any changes to the country’s strong blasphemy laws, is said to have fuelled the protests.

Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws which carry a death penalty for people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, the Quran or certain holy people.

An overwhelming 98 per cent of the population follows Islam and critics say the law targets members of other religious groups including Hindus and Christians.

Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate minorities and settle personal scores.

Local activist Lala Robin claimed the latest incident was also a false allegation.

She said: ‘Minorities feel more insecure in Pakistan than ever. This is a campaign by the TLP to serve their politics.’

In February, another Christian nurse, Tabitha Nazir Gill, 30, was reportedly tied up and tortured by a mob at the Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi after she was falsely accused of blasphemy.

The head nurse, who had worked at the hospital for nine years, was allegedly falsely accused after she challenged a coworker for accepting money from a patient.

Gill is said to have implemented a rule which stops staff receiving money from people using the hospital services.

After seeing a Muslim coworker breaking the order, she told them about their breach and the member of staff subsequently accused her of blasphemy.

Footage from the hospital has emerged on social media which shows a group of people in the hospital hitting the woman.

In November, protesters from the Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party demanded that the government severs diplomatic ties with France and expels its ambassador as fury over Charlie Hebdo’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed showed no sign of waning.

Police blocked the demonstrators as they attempted to enter Islamabad. Some chanted that the only punishment for a blasphemer was beheading, police official Tauqeer Shah said.

The protesters attacked the police with bricks, stones and sticks, he added. They were pictured blocking the road into Pakistan’s capital.

‘Several of our officers were injured,’ he said, adding that nearly 2,000 protesters had camped at the main entrance to the city, refusing to leave.

‘We want the government to expel the French ambassador immediately,’ the TLP’s vice president Zaheer-ul-Hasan said in a video statement. He added that scores of protesters were injured in the clashes.


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