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Ramadan poisoning victims told to keep silent: The Church of England Newspaper, August 19, 2012 p 6. August 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
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Nine Christian nurses hospitalized last month after allegedly being poisoned for violating the Ramadan fast in Karachi, have been warned that if they speak out they will be punished.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Capuchin Father Abid Habib, president of the Major Superiors Leadership Conference of the Roman Catholic Church in Pakistan stated the nurses were “warned that giving out information could result in hospital authorities slapping a court case on them, accusing them of taking drugs before drinking the tea.”

“We are still convinced that they were victims of religious intolerance,” Fr. Habib said.  Police have launched an investigation into the 29 July poisonings of the student nurses at Karachi’s Civil Hospital.  Supporters of the nurses claim that their decision not to participate in the dawn to dusk Ramadan fast angered Islamist extremists, who retaliated by poisoning their tea.

When the nurses returned to their hostel after their shift and made tea, they became ill and had to be hospitalized.

Nasreem Gill, the hospital’s chief nursing superintendent, told local newspapers that tests of the tea and blood samples from the nurses were being examined at the hospital’s laboratory and results were expected shortly.

The Catholic UCA news agency noted that Christian activists in Pakistan have claimed that the country’s Ramadan law, which bans eating, drinking or smoking in public places during the fasting hours, has been used to persecute Christians.  Violations of the Ramadan law are subject to a three month prison sentence or fine.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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Nurses ‘poisoned’ for breaking Ramadan fast claim: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 6 August 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Pakistan, Persecution.
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Christian leaders in Pakistan have called for a government probe after nine nurses were allegedly poisoned for breaking the Ramadan fast by drinking tea.

On 30 July, nine Christian nursing students at the Karachi Civil Hospital were taken ill after drinking tea during a work break. At least three of the nurses were in intensive care following the poisoning but all are expected to recover.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident, which Christian leaders believe was staged by Muslim extremists who were angry the nurses were not observing the dusk-to-dawn Ramadan fast. Catholic Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi told the charity Aid to the Church in Need that he had asked that the incident be investigated by the Pakistan Catholic advocacy organisation the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP).

“It is still unclear what the motive was behind this incident of poisoning,” the Archbishop said. “Was it a religious motive, was it a criminal motive or was it purely accidental?”

According to a report printed in the Express Tribune, one of the nurses brewed the tea in the nurses’ hostel before the start of the evening shift at 10:00 pm. After drinking the tea they all became ill and had to be taken to the hospital’s emergency department.

Mr Saleem Khokhar, a member of parliament, said he did not believe this was a religiously motivated crime as the poisoned tea was consumed after dusk, when the Ramadan fast was over, while the hospital’s medical superintendent, Prof Saeed Quraishy said he did not believe this was a criminal act as the Christian nurses had made the tea themselves.

However, Christian leaders remain convinced this was a religious attack. Speaking at the Karachi Press Club, William Sadiq – a Christian NGO worker – said it was likely the tea had been poisoned earlier in the day. Tensions over Christians not observing the Ramadan fast arose during the day.

“Whatever the truth, it is definitely a cause for concern,” the Archbishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.