Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan are one of the most draconian laws in the world and carry a possible death sentence to anyone who insults Islam or the Prophet. The British Era Blasphemy Laws continues to be the trademark of the human rights violations in Pakistan, as it has been widely misused against the minority communities and even fellow Muslims.
In a new case under Blasphemy Laws, a district and sessions court in Pakistan on Saturday sentenced a former university lecturer to death.
Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan – The World’s Most Draconian Law?
Additional Sessions Judge Kashif Qayyum sentenced Junaid Hafeez – to death and a fine of Rs500,000 million under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), life imprisonment under Section 295-B of the PPC and 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,00 under Section 295-A of the PPC.
Junaid Hafeez – was arrested in 2013 after students accused him of uploading blasphemous material on social media and using blasphemous language during lectures. Hafeez was moved to solitary confinement after he was attacked by fellow inmates in Central Jail Multan.
“According to the First Information Report, Junaid Hafeez had a Facebook page with a group of people as its members of which he was the admin,” said Jamal. “One member of the group posted the so-called blasphemous post in the group… the case [against Hafeez] is built on the trivial charge that he did not remove the blasphemous posting being the administrator of the group.
His first lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was brutally assassinated and his killers have yet to be arrested. His second lawyer withdrew from the case citing immense pressure and security threats while his third lawyer also been consistently threatened.
The case has been languishing due to the transfer of various judges, the absence of prosecution witnesses and adequate legal counsel for defence because of the reprisal from extremist religious groups.
What Does Blasphemy Laws Say?
The law passed by the British Empire in India made it a criminal offence to disturb a religious gathering, transgress on burial grounds, ridicule religious sentiments or wilfully damage or dishonour a place or an object of worship. The maximum punishment under these laws ranges up to 10 years in jail.
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During the 1980s in Pakistan, the blasphemy laws were amended and included a punishment up-to three years who would make any derogatory remarks against Islam. Another clause was added a couple of years later, which designated life imprisonment for intentional disrespect of the Islamic Holy Book, the Koran. A few years later in 1986, an additional clause was included to punish anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad with the death penalty or life imprisonment.