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Islamists prey on critically ill patients in Pakistani hospitals

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Islamists prey on critically ill patients in Pakistani hospitals

Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia

Islamists are stalking hospital emergency wards in Pakistan “like vultures”, seeking to convert Christians and other non-Muslims on their deathbeds.

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They descend on patients who are mostly in a critical condition from, for example, road accidents and shootings, ignoring any pain the patients may be in and the pleas of the families to be left alone with their loved ones.

The Muslim men from various religious factions, chiefly the Islamist movement Tablighi Jamaat, believe that they will receive divine rewards for converting non-Muslims on their deathbeds.

One of their targets was a 23-year-old Christian man, who was admitted to the emergency ward of the Civil Hospital Karachi after being shot as an innocent bystander, caught in crossfire.

He was in obvious pain and barely conscious as the men told him to denounce his infidel ways and recite the Islamic creed that makes a person a Muslim. They ignored his 17-year-old sister’s pleas that they leave her brother alone.

His father said:    

These people are like vultures; they do this to everyone. If we try to stop them, they will accuse us of maybe insulting their religion. We don’t want to be charged with blasphemy. It will be our word against theirs. Who will listen to us?

We wish they’d leave us alone. If my son wanted to convert, he would have done so on his own. What’s the point of harassing someone who is obviously already in pain? Whose god would allow that?

The Islamists moved on when the young Christian man lost consciousness and did not respond. They went to every bed asking if the patient was a Muslim.

Nurses are too busy to intervene. One said:

We’re already understaffed and have too much to deal with. We can’t handle this additional headache. Let them do what they want. The patients’ attendants can deal with them.

And security guards are often complicit, believing that they too will gain rewards (Savaab) for their part. Saleem, a guard on duty outside the emergency ward at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, said:

Who are we to interfere in the work of god? If someone converts to Islam this way, we will get Savaab too. These men help the patients and their families get spiritual peace.

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