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Christian prayer room at Pakistan Nursing School closed

By Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan
02/14/09 LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) — In a rare development, a Christian hostel warden of a Nursing School located at the premises of the Children’s Hospital in the Pakistan city of Lahore, locked the door of a room that was formerly used as a mosque by Muslim nursing students and staff after the administration of the hospital ordered closure of a prayer room for Christian nursing students and nursing staff.

ANS has learnt that the administration ordered closure of the Christians’ prayer room at the nursing school under the pretext that provision of prayer room on the premises of an official building for followers of any religion other than Islam was unconstitutional in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

A tit-for-tat move by the Christian Hostel Warden deprived some 400 Muslim lady doctors and nurses from offering prayers, prompting them to lodge protest against closure of their prayer room.

Some 80 percent students of the nursing school are Christians, therefore the Nursing Hostel Warden, Parsis Zareen Gul, a Christian, had allowed Christian girls to pray in a room at a second floor.

ANS has learnt that Muslim students and staff would meet for prayers at a separate hall on the second floor.

The administration of the Children’s Hospital ordered closure of prayer room recently citing reason that allocation of a prayer room at a government building for followers of any religion other than Islam was unconstitutional.

A Pakistan based Urdu Daily has quoted hostel warden, Parsis Zareen Gul, as saying that it was not she but the school administration that ordered closure of Muslim prayer room.

“If Muslim students have a facility to offer prayers then Christian students should also have the same prayer facility. Every person should be allowed to pray according to his faith,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

Mr. Sohail Johnson, the Chief Coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, has condemned closure of the prayer room for Christian students and called for reopening of the prayer room for Christian nursing students and staff.