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Pakistan SHOCKER: Student sentenced to death after 'blasphemous' WhatsApp messages

Accusations of hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims can lead to the death penalty under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and sometimes people are lynched before the case goes to trial. The court in Punjab province said the student shared blasphemous pictures and videos to hurt religious feelings.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Lahore Published on: March 09, 2024 12:02 IST
Pakistan, death penalty, blasphemy
Image Source : PIXABAY Representational Image

Lahore: A court in Pakistan has sentenced a 22-year-old to death on the charges of blasphemy over WhatsApp messages. The court in Pakistan's Punjab province said the student shared blasphemous pictures and videos with the intention to outrage the religious feelings of Muslims, reported BBC.

A 17-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment in the same case, and both of the accused have denied any wrongdoing. The harsh blasphemy laws in Pakistan carry the death penalty for insulting the religious sentiments of Muslims, and some are even lynched before the cases go to trial. 

As per the report, the complaint was filed in 2022 by the cybercrime unit of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore and later referred to a local court in Gujranwala. In the final ruling, the judges said the 22-year-old was sentenced to death for preparing photos and videos that contained derogatory words about Prophet Muhammad and his wives.

The plaintiff had alleged he had received the videos and photos from three different mobile phone numbers. Pakistan's FIA said that it had examined the student's phone and established that "obscene material" had been sent to him. Meanwhile, defence lawyers argued that the two students had been "trapped in a false case".

Meanwhile, the convicted student's father told BBC that he was filing an appeal in the Lahore High Court. The other student was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty because he is a minor, the court said.

Blasphemy in Pakistan

Earlier, a teenage girl wearing an Arabic print shirt had to be saved by Pakistan police in Lahore from a charged mob accusing her of blasphemy. The incident raised a storm within the Pakistani Senate as several lawmakers called for strict action against those levelling "false charges of blasphemy" and slammed "ignorance".

The incident occurred on Sunday when a mob gathered outside a shop in Lahore’s crowded Ichra Bazaar after someone alleged that a woman’s shirt had Quranic verses printed on it. The mob was seen looking for the woman, accusing her of committing blasphemy, as the scared girl hid in a shop. However, police officials present in the area informed their superiors.

Notably, many religious minorities in Pakistan, including Christians and Hindus, have been frequently subjected to blasphemy allegations and have been tried and sentenced under the country's strict blasphemy law. Accusations of blasphemy provoke people into taking matters into their own hands and embolden 'mob justice' which has claimed several lives.

In August, a mob in the Faisalabad district vandalised several churches and the house of Christian worshippers on blasphemy allegations. While police maintained it was trying to contain the situation with the help of peace committees, Christian leaders alleged that they remained silent spectators.

The 2023 report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom noted that Pakistan's religious freedom conditions had continued to deteriorate since last year. "Religious minorities were subject to frequent attacks and threats, including accusations of blasphemy, targeted killings, lynchings, mob violence, forced conversions, sexual violence against women and girls, and desecration of houses of worship and cemeteries," it said.

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