PAKISTAN: DEATH PENALTY FOR BLASPHEMY ON FACEBOOK
June 11, 2017:
A Pakistani court has sentenced to death a man who allegedly committed blasphemy on Facebook, a prosecutor said, in a first such case that involves social media. (Sources: aljazeera.com, 11/06/2017)
The conviction of Taimoor Raza, 30, came after a high-profile crackdown against blasphemy on social media by the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Shafiq Qureshi, public prosecutor in Bahawalpur, south of provincial capital Lahore, said Raza was convicted for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions.
"An anti-terrorism court of Bahawalpur has awarded him the death sentence," Qureshi told Reuters news agency, adding: "It is the first-ever death sentence in a case that involves social media."
It is rare for a counter-terrorism court to hear blasphemy cases but Raza's trial fell under this category because his charge sheet included counter-terrorism offences linked to hate speech.
Qureshi said Raza was arrested after playing blasphemous and hate speech material on his phone on a bus stop in Bahawalpur, where a counter-terrorism officer arrested him and confiscated his phone.
The material obtained from the phone led to Raza's conviction, he added.
"The trial was conducted in Bahawapur jail in tight security," Qureshi said.
Qureshi added that Raza belongs to the minority Shia community and in court he accused of spreading "hate speech" against the Deobani sect, which adheres to a strict school of Sunni Islam.
As Raza's blasphemy conviction was under the counter-terrorism court, he will be able to appeal his sentence in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court.