Four men have been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. A fifth has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.
Pakistan is infamous for its blasphemy laws which not only bring legal punishments but also risk extrajudicial punishments. Rumours or allegations of disrespect go Islam, the state religion of Pakistan, or the Islamic holy book Quran or Islam's Prophet Muhammed often lead to riots, arson, and lynchings.
The five convictions have come over posts on social media platform Facebook that the court found blasphemous.
Additional District Sessions Judge (Rawalpindi) Ahsan Mahmood Malik sentenced the four to death on Monday for posting blasphemous material on Facebook, PTI reported Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as saying, and added that they have also been sentenced to a 28-year jail term each for committing blasphemy against the Quran as well, the
"Muhammad Amin, Wazir Gul, Faizan Razaak, and Muhammad Rizwan, who are in their 20s, were handed death sentences by the Additional District Sessions Judge on Monday for posting blasphemous material against the Prophet on Facebook. The convicts had shared objectionable comments about the Quran on social media," said the FIA.
The FIA said its anti-cyber-crime wing had arrested the suspects last year after receiving a complaint against them from one Omar Nawaz, who alleged that they had shared blasphemous material about the Prophet and Quran on social media, reported PTI, adding that FIA said Malik convicted the accused after it presented forensic evidence of their social media accounts.
In his judgement, Malik observed that "blasphemy against the Prophet and Quran are unforgivable crimes. Therefore, the accused do not deserve any concession or leniency", according to PTI.
Pakistan is infamous for its blasphemy laws where allegations frequently incite violence. Earlier this year, the country expanded the scope of punishment of the laws.
"Pakistan has the world’s second-strictest blasphemy laws after Iran...Although no executions have ever taken place, extrajudicial killings related to blasphemy have occurred in Pakistan. Since 1990, more than 70 people have been murdered by mobs and vigilantes over allegations of insulting Islam," notes Ahmet T. Kuru, Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University, in The Conversation.