By Laura Kemp • 20 January 2022 • 15:03
A Pakistani court has sentenced a Muslim woman, 26-year-old Aneeqa Atteeq, to death after finding her guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammed over WhatsApp messages.
Atteeq was convicted and sentenced in Rawalpindi yesterday, January 19, after a complaint against her under the cybercrime and blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
According to reports, she met her accuser, who is also Pakistani, online in 2019 on a mobile gaming app and they continued to talk via WhatsApp.
He accused her of sending blasphemous caricatures of prophets and making remarks about “holy personages” during their WhatsApp conversations, while also posting blasphemous material on her Facebook account.
The charges say Atteeq had “deliberately and intentionally defile(d) sacred righteous personalities and insulted the religious beliefs of Muslims.”
The woman, who is a practising Muslim, denied the charges and told the court that her accuser has intentionally drawn her into religious conversations so that he could collect evidence in “revenge” after she refused to be friendly with him.
Atteeq’s lawyer Syeda Rashida Zainab said he could not comment on the sentence “as the issue is very sensitive.”
Atteeq was also fined and sentenced to 20 years in jail, alongside her death sentence.
According to reports, the death sentence has to be confirmed by Lahore High Court and Atteeq has a right to appeal the decision.
Among Pakistan’s conservative society, accusations of blasphemy can result in mob attacks and the blasphemy law in the country carries the death penalty for those found guilty of the offence.
Although death sentences are handed out regularly, most of the convictions result in life in prison.
Human rights groups say that blasphemy accusations have often been used to settle personal scores and intimidate religious minorities.
Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, spent eight years in jail following a row with a fellow farm worker. She was later acquitted by the supreme court and moved to Canada.
There has been pressure on Pakistan for a long time with regards to their blasphemy laws, however, this is strongly resisted by Islamists and Pakistani PM Imran Khan who last year called for Muslim countries to join together to lobby Western governments to criminalise insulting Islam’s prophet.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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