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Pakistan Court Sentences Student to Death for Blasphemy Over WhatsApp Messages

A court in Punjab Province, Pakistan, has handed down a death sentence to a 22-year-old student on charges of blasphemy related to WhatsApp messages.

The court ruled that the student had shared blasphemous pictures and videos with the intention to outrage the religious feelings of Muslims. Additionally, a 17-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment as part of the same case. Both defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

Blasphemy is considered a capital offense in Pakistan, and individuals have been subjected to mob violence even before their cases proceed to trial.

The complaint was initially filed in 2022 by the cybercrime unit of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore, Punjab’s capital. The case was then referred to a local court in Gujranwala city.

In its recent ruling, the court stated that the 22-year-old was sentenced to death for creating photos and videos containing derogatory content about Prophet Muhammad and his wives. The younger defendant received a life sentence for sharing the material, allegedly received from three different mobile phone numbers.

The FIA confirmed that it examined the plaintiff’s phone and found “obscene material” had been sent to him. However, defense lawyers argued that the two students had been ensnared in a false case.

The father of the condemned individual, whose identity remains undisclosed, informed the BBC that he plans to file an appeal in the Lahore High Court.

The minor defendant was spared the death penalty and received a life imprisonment sentence, according to the court.

Laws against blasphemy were initially established during India’s British colonial period and were further expanded in the 1980s under Pakistan’s military regime.

In a related incident last August, numerous churches and residences were set ablaze in the eastern city of Jaranwala following accusations against two Christian men for allegedly desecrating the Quran. Source – BBC

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