three males sentenced to loss of life for blasphemy in Pakistan

Islamabad, January 8

A Pakistan court here on Friday sentenced three men to death, while a fourth was awarded 10 years imprisonment for committing blasphemy.

Judge Raja Jawad Abbas of an Islamabad-based Anti-Terrorism Court announced the verdict and declared them guilty.

Of the three given capital punishment, Rana Nouman Rafaqat and Abdul Waheed disseminated blasphemous material on social media and Nasir Ahmad uploaded blasphemous videos to a Youtube channel, according to the charges upheld by the court.

A fourth individual, Professor Anwaar Ahmed, an Urdu teacher at a college in Islamabad, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, along with a fine of 100,000 Pakistani rupees. He was found guilty of expressing blasphemous views during a lecture.

All four convicts were initially arrested and indicted in 2017 in connection with the blasphemy case.

Officials said it was the first case in Pakistan in which persons have been convicted for sharing blasphemous content on social media.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were enacted in the 1980s in the tenure of military ruler Ziaul Haq. Those accused of blasphemy are at the risk of being killed by the extremists.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence. Anyone convicted or even just accused of insulting Islam risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Rights groups have said the blasphemy laws are routinely abused to seek vengeance and settle personal scores. —PTI

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