Published: Mon, June 12, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

First ever death penalty for blasphemy on social media in Pakistan

First ever death penalty for blasphemy on social media in Pakistan

An anti-terrorism court in Punjab's Bahawalpur, about 600 km south of Islamabad, found Taimoor Raza guilty of using Facebook and WhatsApp to "disseminate" hate material including "offensive pictures and comments" insulting the prophet Muhammad, VOA reports.

Taimoor Raza, who belongs to the minority Shia sect in the Sunni-dominant country, was arrested a year ago following an online argument about Islam with someone who turned out to be a counterterrorism agent.

A PAKISTANI court has sentenced a man to death for comments he made about the prophet Mohammed on Facebook. An AP report said he was arrested by counter-terrorism department officials who received a complaint against him for showing blasphemous content to onlookers at a bus terminal.

Waseem Abbas, Raza's brother, said the family was "poor but literate", and belonged to Pakistan's minority Shia Muslim community. Now, a court in Bahawalpur has handed him the death sentence.

The US firm previously announced in March that it was deploying a team to Pakistan to address the government's concerns about blasphemous content on its service, but added that it still wished to protect "the privacy and rights" of its members.

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"Convicting and sentencing someone to death for allegedly posting blasphemous material online is a violation of global human rights law and sets a risky precedent", said Amnesty International's Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman in a statement.

Last month, a 10-year-old boy was fatally shot in Pakistan when an angry mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a man charged with blasphemy.

To battle blasphemy, Pakistani authorities have asked Twitter and Facebook to help identify users sharing blasphemous content.

In April, a journalism student was beaten to death by a mob on his campus, after he was accused of having blasphemous views.

The notion of blasphemy is especially sensitive in Pakistan, often igniting violence and outcry even before cases have had the chance to be heard in the house of law.

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