Pakistan: Young woman sentenced to death under blasphemy law

Aniqua Ateeq (Sabah)

Aniqa Ateeq (Sabah)


By Nasir Aijaz
The AsiaN Representative 

Islamabad: A local court in Rawalpindi city of Punjab province awarded death sentence to a young Muslim woman for promoting blasphemous content on social media.

The court ordered that the woman be “hanged by her neck till she is dead”. This is first time that a woman has been given death sentence under blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

According to prosecution, the woman – 26-year Aniqa Ateeq had been sending ‘blasphemous messages’ to her estranged friend Hasnat Farooq. She was charged with committing blasphemy against the prophet, insulting Islam and violating the cybercrime laws.

It has been reported by the media that Aniqa Ateeq and Hasnat Farooq were friends but differences erupted between the two and an extremely angry Anika shared with him blasphemous messages on WhatsApp. He asked her to delete the messages and say sorry for her action, but she refused.

Consequently, Hasnat Farooq filed a complaint against her with the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which after an initial probe, filed the case and arrested her for probe and prosecution in 2020.

The court, which found the woman guilty of promoting blasphemous content on social media, also pronounced a 20-year jail term for her along with a fine of PKR150000 (Around US$850).

The verdict was announced by Rawalpindi city’s additional district and session judge Adnan Mushtaq against Aniqa Atteeq under the country’s cybercrime law and other regulations.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were enacted by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in the 1980s. Nobody has been executed under these laws but several people have been killed on mere suspicion of committing blasphemy.

Up to 80 people are known to be jailed in Pakistan on blasphemy charges — half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty — according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

While many cases involve Muslims accusing fellow Muslims, rights activists have warned that religious minorities — particularly Christians — are often caught in the crossfire, with blasphemy charges used to settle personal scores.

In December last year, a Sri Lankan factory manager working in Sialkot city of Punjab was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob after being accused of blasphemy while Salman Taseer, who was Governor of Punjab, was assassinated by his police guard Mumtaz Qadri on January 4, 2011 following a statement of the Governor Taseer in support of a Christian women accused of blasphemy. The assassin Mumtaz Qadri was arrested, tried and sentenced to death by a court. He was hanged on February 29, 2016.

Also in the last week of December 2021, a court in Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw province convicted a 42-year-old man of committing blasphemy through uploading a video on the internet and sentenced him to death along with a fine of PKR100000 (Some US$570).

The judge pronounced that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused, Bashir Mastan, a resident of Charsadda town.

The court convicted him under section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code and while sentencing him to death ordered that the sentence should not be executed unless confirmed by the Peshawar High Court.

The judge had ordered that necessary reference should be prepared and sent to the high court for confirmation of the death sentence. The judge also convicted the accused under section 298 PPC and sentenced him to two years rigorous imprisonment. как оформить ипотеку на квартиру

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