A public outcry has followed reports of a hospital in Lahore forcing Christian employees to recite verses of the Quran at morning assemblies or be marked absent for the day. Many speaking out against this incident have claimed that it goes against Pakistan’s constitution which does enshrine religious freedom for all. Still, instances of forced conversion are commonly reported in Pakistan especially among women and girls from religious minority communities. The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan has estimated that as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are forcefully converted to Islam in Pakistan each year.
05/03/2017 Pakistan (The Express Tribune) – Reports suggest that there is a hospital administration in the city that forces its non-Muslim staffers to either recite verses from the Holy Quran at morning assembly or be marked absent for the day.
The Mian Mir Hospital, run by the City District Government Lahore, was named after Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir who rose to prominence during the time of Mughal emperor Jehangir. The saint himself was a big proponent of interfaith harmony.
The matter came to light when Mian Mir Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Sarfraz allegedly slapped a Christian paramedical staffer for not attending the assembly. Following the incident, all paramedical staff protested against the MS and other hospital administration by shutting down all functions of the medical facility. “This act of the MS is a violation of the Constitution of Pakistan,” commented a Christian paramedical staffer named Marshal.
Talking to the media, he asked religious scholars to sort out the issue as the administration of the hospital was pressurizing them to leave their jobs.
Another paramedical staff member of the medical facility, Fahad Ahmed, said both Muslims and Christians were working in harmony. “It is professional workplace; I don’t know why the administration is forcing our Christian brothers to do this. This is totally unacceptable.”
Center for Social Justice Chairman Peter Jacob told The Express Tribune that religious freedom is guaranteed to all under Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan. “This act goes against the constitution and should be dealt with accordingly,” he commented.