A Pakistani man who allegedly committed blasphemy on social media (Facebook) was sentenced to death by a counter-terrorism court, according to an official statement released on Sunday by a government prosecutor. In Islamic countries, criticizing the holy book (Koran) or the prophet Mohamed is considered blasphemy which is punishable by death under sharia law. However, this marks a world premiere, i.e. the first time a Muslim has been sentenced to death for blasphemy on social media.
The victim is a 30 year old man named Taimoor Raza and his death sentence is the logical consequence of Pakistani government’s crackdown against blasphemy on Facebook and other social media platforms. Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Islamic countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, and insulting the prophet is a capital crime for which tens of people are executed every year. Even a mere accusation is sometimes enough to spark mob justice and mass uproar.
The public prosecutor who worked Raza’s case, Shafiq Qureshi respectively has said that the blasphemous Pakistani citizen made derogatory remarks against the prophet, his wives and companions, and that’s a no-no procedure under sharia (Islamic law).
The prosecutor said that Raza was arrested after he disseminated hate speech and blasphemous material on his smartphone at a bus stop in Bahawalpur. A counter terrorism officer (criticizing Islam is a terrorist act in Pakistan by the way) arrested him on the spot and confiscated his smartphone. The material extracted from Raza’s phone led to his death sentence. Raza is a Shia muslim, a minority in Deobani dominated Pakistan. Deobani is a sect which adheres to a strict interpretation of the Koran and part of Sunni Islam.
It’s worth remembering that Facebook agreed to work with Pakistan’s government for tackling blasphemous content on their social media platform. Long story short, a US based corporation is going to actively censor online content to satisfy the demands of a corrupt theocracy that supports terrorism among other things.