Blasphemy: Pakistan Court sentences man to death over WhatsApp post
A Muslim man, Syed Muhammad Zeeshan has been convicted and sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in northwest Pakistan after he was accused of posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group.
It was said blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can induce violence.
Agence France-Presse reported that Zeeshan was convicted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act and Anti-Terrorist Act by the court in Peshawar on Friday.
“Accused Syed Muhammad Zeeshan, son of Syed Zakaullah in custody has been convicted and sentenced after being found guilty”, the court order said, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
Zeeshan, who is a resident of the northwest city of Mardan, was also fined 1.2 million rupees, $4,300, and handed a total of 23 years imprisonment.
It was said he has the right to appeal.
It was gathered that the case came to light after Muhammad Saeed, a resident of Talagang in Punjab province filed an application with the Federal Investigation Agency two years ago accusing Zeeshan of posting blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group, Saeed’s counsel Ibrar Hussain told AFP.
He said, The “FIA had confiscated Zeeshan’s cell-phone and its forensic examination proved him guilty.”
While Pakistan’s laws prohibiting blasphemy can carry a potential death sentence, so far it has never been enforced for the crime.
The country has witnessed many cases involve Muslims accusing fellow Muslims, while the rights activists warned that religious minorities — particularly Christians — often caught with blasphemy charges are used to settle personal scores.
The National Commission of Justice and Peace, a human rights and legal aid group in Pakistan, revealed that 774 Muslims and 760 members of various minority religious groups were accused of blasphemy in the last 20 years.