Muslim woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Rawalpindi

    A sessions court in Rawalpindi on Jan. 19 handed the death penalty to a Muslim woman charged with blasphemy.

    Additional Sessions Judge Adnan Mushtaq convicted 26-year-old Aneeqa Ateeq of blasphemy under Section 295-C and sentenced her to death and a fine of Rs 50,000. She was also convicted under different charges, including 298-A PPC and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

    The complainant Hasnat Farooq registered a blasphemy case against Aneeqa, wife of Ateeq-ur-Rehman, on May 13, 2020, in Islamabad for allegedly uploading blasphemous content against Prophet Muhammad and his wife Hazrat Ayesha on WhatsApp. She was also alleged of using Facebook to transmit blasphemous material to other accounts.

    Aneeqa accused Hasnat of trying to befriend her on PUBG or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a popular battle royale games globally, and dragged her into this topic for revenge.

    “The accused herself wrote a message by posing herself as “exMuslim,” the accused has become Murtid and in view of a large number of Muslim scholars, a Murtid is wajid-ul-Qatl,” the judge ruled in his 22-page verdict.

    “The blasphemous material which was shared/install by the female accused on her status and the message as well as caricatures which were sent to the complainant are totally unbearable.”

    On Jan 3, a sessions judge in Rawalpindi changed a Christian’s life prison term under blasphemy laws into the death sentence.

    Zafar Bhatti, 56, who has languished in jail since 2012 after being accused of sending blasphemous text messages, received the death sentence from Rawalpindi Additional Sessions Judge Sahibzada Naqeeb when Bhatti’s new lawyer contested the conviction instead of filing for post-conviction bail, said Bhatti’s former lawyer, Tahir Bashir.

    Bhatti had been handed the life sentence, which in Pakistan is 25 years, on May 3, 2017, under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws against defaming Islam’s prophet. Bhatti is considered Pakistan’s longest-serving blasphemy convict.

    Pakistan reported 200 blasphemy cases in 2020, the highest annual count in the country’s history, with a sharp increase in the number of accused from the Shia Muslim community.

    Out of the 200 blasphemy cases, 75 percent of the accused were Muslims, of whom 70 percent were Shia. The others were Ahmadis (20 percent), Christians (3.5 percent) and Hindus (1 percent).

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