Three get death penalty for posting blasphemous content on social media

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Friday sentenced three men to death for posting blasphemous content on social media.

ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas delivered the verdict in the presence of the accused, identified as Nasir Ahmad Sultan, Rana Noman and Abdul Waheed.

According to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), their investigation of the case had revealed that Rana Nouman Rafaqat and Abdul Waheed used fake profiles as a means of disseminating blasphemous content on social media. The FIA also revealed that Nasir Ahmad had uploaded blasphemous videos to a Youtube channel. On Friday, the verdict was announced by ATC Judge Abbas, who found all three guilty of having committed blasphemy.

Another accused, Professor Anwar Ahmed, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and had a Rs100,000 fine imposed on him for defaming religion.

The court ruled that all accused have been proved to have committed blasphemy. The court also issued permanent arrest warrants against four absconding accused.

According to the first information report (FIR), registered by the FIA on March 19, 2017, “There are several unknown people/groups disseminating/spreading blasphemous material through internet using social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter, websites, etc. through alleged profiles/pages/handles/sites etc… and several others wilfully defiled and outraged religious feelings, belief by using derogatory words/remarks/graphic designs/images/sketches/visual representations in respect of the sacred names.”

The cases had been pending before the court for the past four years. The ATC had completed the trial and reserved its decision on December 15, 2020.

Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in Pakistan. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by military dictator General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s. The trial in this case was completed last year. The court had reserved its verdict on December 15, 2020.

Pakistan sentenced a man to death due to the sharing blasphemous content about Islam on social media for the first time in 2017.

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