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‘Facebook Blasphemer’ Receives Death Sentence In Pakistan

The first death sentence involving social media.

12/06/2017 13:32 BST | Updated 12/06/2017 13:35 BST

A man accused of sharing blasphemous content about Islam on Facebook has been sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan.

Taimoor Raza, a minority Shiite Muslim, was convicted and sentenced on Saturday in Bahawalpur, a city in eastern Punjab province.

Public prosecutor Shafiq Qureshi told Reuters: “An anti-terrorism court of Bahawalpur has awarded him the death sentence. It is the first ever death sentence in a case that involves social media.”

LOIC VENANCE via Getty Images
It is believed this is the first death sentence involving social media 

Qureshi said the 30-year-old was arrested last year after playing blasphemous and hate speech material on his phone on a bus stop in Bahawalpur, where a counter-terrorism officer arrested him and confiscated his phone.

The material obtained from the phone - alleged derogatory content about Sunni Muslim religious leaders and wives of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook - led to Raza’s conviction, he added.

Pakistan is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country and the rivalry between Shiite and Sunni Muslims dates back to the seventh century when they had a falling out over who should be the heir to Islam’s prophet Mohammed.

Under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting God, Islam or other religious personalities can be sentenced to death. 

As Raza’s blasphemy conviction was under the counter-terrorism court, he will be able to appeal his sentence in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court.