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Man sentenced to death on social media blasphemy charges

BAHWALPUR – An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday sentenced a man to death for sharing offensive content about Islam on social media, in a first ever penalty over online blasphemy.

Bahawalpur’s ATC Judge Shabir Ahmed announced the sentence for the 30-year-old accused, who belongs to the Shia community, according to media reports.

The accused, who hails from Lahore, had allegedly posted derogatory content about prominent Sunni religious figures and wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on Facebook.

He was arrested last year from Bahawalpur by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).

In recent months, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif launched a campaign to rid social media of any content considered insulting to Islam, at least any posted by Pakistanis.

The government petitioned Facebook and Twitter to identify Pakistanis worldwide posting material considered offensive to Islam so that Pakistani authorities can prosecute them or pursue their extradition on charges of blasphemy, tantamount to a death sentence.

Pakistan is cracking down against blasphemy related crimes on social media with the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar threatening to block all social media websites with ‘blasphemous content’ earlier this year.

lasphemy has been a contentious issue in the country where people have been murdered over allegations of blasphemy. Earlier this year, a mob in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan beat up a student, Mashal Khan, to death after accusing him of blasphemy over social media.

The incident caused an outrage across the country, with calls for the blasphemy law to be amended. The investigation into Mashal’s murder was concluded after a joint investigation team probing the case cleared him of all blasphemy charges.

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Mian Bilal

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