Oct 19, 2017 Last Updated 2:12 PM, Oct 18, 2017
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A man accused of posting blasphemous content to Facebook has been sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan.

Taimoor Raza was convicted after allegedly posting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions within the site's comments.

The public prosecutor involved said he believed it was the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media.

Human rights campaigners have expressed concern.

Facebook itself has yet to comment on the case.

The US firm previously announced in March that it was deploying a team to Pakistan to address the government's concerns about blasphemous content on its service, but added that it still wished to protect "the privacy and rights" of its members.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described blasphemy as being an "unpardonable offence".

Raza's case was heard by an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur - about 309 miles (498km) from the capital Islamabad.

His defence lawyer said the 30-year-old had become involved in an argument about Islam on the social network with someone who had turned out to be a counter-terrorism official.

The public prosecutor said the accused had been arrested after playing hate speech and blasphemous material from his phone at a bus stop, following which his handset had been confiscated and analysed.

Raza will be able to appeal against the death penalty at Lahore High Court and then, if required, in Pakistan's Supreme Court.

The Express Tribune, a local newspaper, reported that the verdict came days after a college professor was refused bail in another case involving accusations of blasphemy on social media in Pakistan.

Amnesty International recently published a report critical of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

"[They] enable abuse and violate the country's international legal obligations to respect and protect a range of human rights, including freedom of religion or belief and of opinion and expression," it said.

"Once someone is charged, they can be denied bail and face lengthy and unfair trials."

The developments come seven years after a Pakistan court temporarily blocked local access to Facebook after the social network was used to promote a contest to draw images of Prophet Muhammad - an act considered to be offensive by many Muslims.

Officials from the department of the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) and the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) have put to bed wrangles that ensued between the two over the handling of female Muslims.

The media and social media were awash with reports of disagreements over DTRSS procedure which requested the women of faith to remove their head gear in order to have their ID’ captured.

The Road Traffic Regulations in Malawi of 2000 on acquiring drivers license, states that the applicant is supposed to have their photograph taken showing the head only without any form of head gear.

However the arrangement has been working against Muslim Women who by faith and culture are mandated to cover their heads and in some cases face, exposing the eyes only.

Reports reveal that the women have been failing to get driving licenses as they were forced to take off their Hijabs for photos a development that was seen to go against the Islamic faith.

According to a statement from the DTRSS, the development led to a series of discussions between the DRTSS and MAM where the two have finally reached a compromise.

The two have agreed that women of the veil will not be requested to remove the whole Hijab but ensure that their facial features are visible enough for recognition.

A Hijab is a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family.

It can further refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of modesty.

The Muslim community has pledged commitment towards assisting Government in developing the country.

A misunderstanding between some Moslems and their leaders, which threatened to get out of hand, has now been amicably resolved.

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