A man in Pakistan was arrested and dragged to anti-terrorism court after supposedly publishing religiously offensive text about the Prophet Mohammed on his Facebook page.
Rizwan Haider, a 25-year-old Shiite Muslim, was found guilty on three charges, including promoting of sectarian hatred, and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
The man, who denied the charges, was fined with 250.000 rupees (N744.490) and has the right to appeal against the court decision. His lawyer, Shameem Zaidi, also dismissed the accusations, saying Rizwat only “liked” the Facebook post written by another user.
Meanwhile, Adeel Chattah, public prosecutor, explained: “This case was registered against Haider, who is a Shiite Muslim by faith, in January for posting objectionable material against the belief of Sunni Muslims.”
The Pakistan Penal Code prohibits blasphemy against any recognized religion, providing penalties ranging from a fine to death. From 1987 to 2014 over 1300 people have been accused of blasphemy, mostly non-Muslim religious minorities. The vast majority of the accusations were lodged for desecration of the Quran.
Critics complain that Pakistan’s blasphemy law “is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas,”but calls for change in the blasphemy laws have been strongly resisted by Islamic parties – most prominently the Barelvi school of Islam/