A Pakistani court recently sentenced a woman to death for allegedly sending blasphemous messages via WhatsApp and Facebook.
After a complaint was filed against her under Pakistan’s draconian cybercrime and blasphemy laws, Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, was found guilty and sentenced to death by a court in Rawalpindi on Wednesday. According to the charge sheet, Ateeq met her accuser, a fellow Pakistani, through a mobile gaming app in 2019 and the two began corresponding via WhatsApp. Ateeq, who claims to be a practising Muslim, has denied all of the allegations.
Ateeq testified in court that she believes the complainant purposefully dragged her into a religious debate in order to gather evidence and exact “revenge” after she refused to be friendly.
Pakistan is an Islamic country with some of the world’s harshest anti-blasphemy laws, which regularly result in death sentences. Executions are not carried out in practice, and the accused spend their lives in prison. However, blasphemy trials in Pakistan are extremely dangerous, with the accused frequently being killed by vigilantes before the courts reach a decision on their cases, and judges rarely acquit the accused, fearing the ramifications, and are frequently pressured into reaching guilty verdicts. Pakistan has recently asked Facebook and Twitter to assist in identifying its citizens who are suspected of being terrorists.
Zafar Bhatti (51), the longest-serving blasphemy convict in Pakistan’s Rawalpindi district, was sentenced to death in January by a sessions court judge in the Rawalpindi district. Zafar Bhatti, a Christian, was sentenced to death in Pakistan under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, approximately 80 people have been imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges, with half of them facing the death penalty or life in prison. ‘Gustakh e Nabi ki ek hi saza, sar tan se juda, sar tan se Juda‘, This chant implies that beheading is the only acceptable punishment for ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad.