Muslim woman found guilty of sharing images considered insulting to Islam’s prophet Mohammed and one of his wives.
Islamabad, Pakistan A Pakistani court has sentenced a Muslim woman to death for committing “blasphemy” by sharing images that are considered insulting to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and one of his wives, who is also considered a holy figure by many Muslims word.
The trial court in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi sentenced Aneeqa Ateeq on Wednesday under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which compulsory capital punishment for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
“The blasphemous material shared / installed on her status by the female accused [on WhatsApp messaging platform] and the messages as well as caricatures sent to the complainant are totally unbearable and unbearable for a Muslim, ”Judge Adnan Mushtaq wrote in his ruling in the case.
Ateeq, 26, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were first filed in May 2020.
Ateeq said in a statement to the court that her accuser, Hasnat Farooq, deliberately dragged her into a religious conversation to frame her after she refused to “be kind” to him. The two met on a popular online multiplayer game and continued to communicate on WhatsApp.
“So I feel like he intentionally dragged into this topic for revenge, that’s why he’s registered [sic] a case against me and during [WhatsApp] chat he gathered everything that went against me, ”she said in a statement of evidence.
Farooq alleges that the accused shared the alleged defamatory material as a WhatsApp status and refused to delete it when he confronted her on that messaging platform.
Ateeq’s death sentence is subject to confirmation by the High Court in Lahore, a forum where she also has the right of appeal.
Blasphemy is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where the country’s strict laws impose severe penalties for various types of crimes, including sentences of up to life imprisonment for some forms of crime and the mandatory death sentence for insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
Allegations of blasphemy have increasingly led to extrajudicial violence, mob justice, or widespread violent protests.
Since 1990, at least 80 people have been killed in connection with allegations of blasphemy, according to an Al Jazeera report. Those killed include people accused of blasphemy, their family members, their lawyers and at least one judge, according to the data.
In the latest such attack was a Sri Lankan textile factory manager beaten to death by a crowd and his body burned in December in the eastern city of Sialkot after he was accused of blasphemy by his colleagues.
International law groups say legal action in blasphemy cases in Pakistan has often been biased against the accused because of the charged nature of the allegations.
In a 2015 report, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) found that blasphemy hearings in Pakistan were “fundamentally unfair”, listing concerns ranging from intimidation and harassment of judges, “demonstrable prejudice and prejudice against accused persons by judges” and investigations and prosecutions that do not meet the due diligence requirements.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweeted @AsadHashim.