Pakistan blasphemy: Student sentenced over Whatsapp messages

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a 22-year-old student to death on charges of blasphemy over Whatsapp messages.

The court in Punjab Province said he had shared blasphemous pictures and videos with the intention to outrage the religious feelings of Muslims.

A 17-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment as part of the same case. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. Some people have been lynched even before their cases go to trial.

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The complaint was filed in 2022 by the cybercrime unit of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore, the capital of Punjab.

The case was referred to a local court in the city of Gujranwala.

In the ruling this week, the judges said the 22-year-old was sentenced to death for preparing photos and videos which contained derogatory words about Prophet Muhammad and his wives.

The younger defendant was given a life sentence for sharing the material.

The plaintiff had alleged he had received the videos and photos from three different mobile phone numbers.

The FIA said that it had examined the plaintiff’s phone and established that “obscene material” had been sent to him.

In August dozens of homes and churches were torched in eastern Pakistan after two Christians were accused of damaging the Quran

Defence lawyers argued that the two students had been “trapped in a false case”.

The father of the death-row convict, whose identity has not been disclosed, told the BBC that he was filing an appeal in the Lahore High Court.

The other student was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty because he is a minor, the court said.

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Laws against blasphemy were first codified by India’s British rulers and expanded in the 1980s under Pakistan’s military government.

Last August, scores of churches and homes were burnt in the eastern city of Jaranwala after two Christian men were accused of damaging the Quran.


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