June 12, 2017
Social media can be a treacherous place for those who dare share opinions that others disagree with vehemently.
But news coming out of Pakistan this weekend takes that dynamic to a whole new level.
In what’s believed to be the first-of-its-kind case, 30-year-old Taimoor Raza was sentenced to death after “allegedly posting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and companions” on Facebook, according to a report from the BBC. Hanging is the only legal method of execution in Pakistan.
According to reports, Raza had gotten into a Facebook tiff about Islam with someone who turned out to be a counterterrorism official.
“The public prosecutor said the accused had been arrested after playing hate speech and blasphemous material from his phone at a bus stop, following which his handset had been confiscated and analysed,” the BBC reported.
This news comes several months after Amnesty International decried Pakistan’s blasphemy laws as often being “used against religious minorities and others who are the target of false accusations, while emboldening vigilantes prepared to threaten or kill the accused.”
“As Good As Dead” is what the human-rights organization titled its lengthy report citing “cases which illustrate the broad scope for human rights violations and abuses, in order to highlight the need for urgent repeal of the laws and – until their repeal – the need for effective procedural safeguards to be put in place.”
While the nation’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has deemed blasphemy an “unpardonable offense,” Raza can still appeal the verdict.