By Jawad Mazhar, Worthy News Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (Worthy News) -- The Christian head of a hostel and two Christian students from a nearby medical college in Pakistan's Punjab province have been expelled after Islamic extremists wanted to kill them on "false" charges of "desecrating the Koran", seen as a holy book by Muslims, Worthy News established Monday, February 23.
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.
The three women were forced to leave last week, February 13, "because the students had hung a picture of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in their hostel room who they deeply love," confirmed Christian provincial legislator Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, who also is a regional leader of advocacy group All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA).
Chaudhary said that picture "displeased their Muslim room mates because Muslims believe that angels carrying blessings of Allah, the god of Muslims, do not allow pictures or images of living things."
Islam, "does allow decorating homes with flowers or pictures of non-living things," Chaudhary told Worthy News and its partner news agency BosNewsLife. Encouraged by college officials, Muslim students "ripped apart" the Jesus picture "and abused Christ," the legislator said.
The picture, "which was hung with great devotion by both Christian nursing students, was torn and thrown through the window into the garbage on the ground floor," Chaudhary explained.
Soon after, Islamic extremists and Muslim students from FMHCMD reportedly took to the streets, demanding that both students be executed "in front of the masses in broad day light."
The mob turned against the Christian hostel warden when she tried to stop them. The women managed to escape, but were fired by the College administration, Chaudhary and other sources said.
Muslim officials apparently denied the picture of Jesus Christ was the main reason for the dismissal. Instead, officials and other "fanatic Muslim accusers" came with "fake accusations" that the three women tore a page printed with Koranic verses and threw that into a trash can, Christians said.
Local Muslims have reportedly been unable to produce that page before media or authorities. The case has underscored concerns among rights groups that Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws are being misused against minorities, including Christians.
Chaudhary said that calm has returned due to "relentless efforts" by him and allies, but he declined to say whether the women would be able to return. APMA chief and Pakistan's Christian Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, refused to answer phone calls.
Bhatti has come under mounting pressure to use his ministerial position to tackle blasphemy laws, under which minority Christians have been jailed and prosecuted in several parts of Pakistan.