A woman in Pakistan reportedly got the death sentence for WhatsApp texts she sent a friend, as per reports. The “blasphemous” messages allegedly contained caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and one of his wives. A trial court in Rawalpindi handed out the sentence earlier this week on Wednesday under the country’s stringent laws against blasphemy.
Identified as 26-year-old Aneeqa Ateeq, the woman was arrested in May two years ago for her social media activity. A highly sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, blasphemy attracts punishment that permits the death penalty, although reports note the country has not witnessed any judicial killings on these charges till now.
Pakistan’s law calls for a mandatory death sentence for insulting the Prophet, the founder of Islam.
“The blasphemous material which was shared… are totally unbearable and not tolerable for a Muslim,” the verdict sentencing Ateeq to death read, as per Al Jazeera.
According to reports, the woman had pleaded not guilty in court and claimed she was deliberately pulled into discussing religious issues by the friend in question, who was taking “revenge” after she refused to “be friendly” with him.
The friend, a man named Hasnat Farooq, is the accuser in the case. He reportedly met Ateeq on a gaming platform and subsequently connected with her over other messaging platforms.
Farooq claimed Ateeq allegedly shared offensive caricatures on her WhatsApp status, which he confronted her about. Following this, she sent the contentious material to him on chat. Farooq took his complaint to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s cybercrime wing.
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The chargesheet in Ateeq’s case states she “deliberately and intentionally defiles sacred righteous personalities” and the verdict ordered her to be “hanged by her neck till she is dead.” Ateeq has also been given a 20-year prison term.
Reports suggest 80 people are known to have received jail time on blasphemy charges till now. While a death sentence for blasphemy has not been carried out to conclusion, several accused have reportedly faced mob violence and lynchings.
Human rights groups have often called attention to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws and noted their inclination to persecute minorities in the country and suppress freedom of speech.