Pakistani court sentences woman to death for WhatsApp ‘blasphemy’

A Pakistani court has sentenced a Muslim woman to death for committing “blasphemy” by sharing images deemed to be insulting to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and one of his wives, also considered a holy personage by many Muslims.

The trial court in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday sentenced Aneeqa Ateeq under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which impose a a mandatory death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

“The blasphemous material which was shared/installed by the female accused on her status [on WhatsApp messaging platform] and the messages as well as caricatures which were sent to the complainant are totally unbearable and not tolerable for a Muslim,” Judge Adnan Mushtaq wrote in his verdict in the case.

Ateeq, 26, had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were first filed in May 2020.

In a statement to the court, Ateeq said her accuser, Hasnat Farooq, had deliberately pulled her into a religious discussion to frame her after she refused “to be friendly” towards him. The two had met on a popular online multiplayer game and continued communicating on WhatsApp.

“So I feel that he intentionally dragged into this topic for revenge, that’s why he got registered [sic] a case against me and during [WhatsApp] chat he collected everything that went against me,” she said in an evidentiary statement.

Farooq contends the accused shared the allegedly blasphemous material as a WhatsApp status and refused to delete it when he confronted her on that messaging platform.

Ateeq’s death sentence is subject to confirmation by the Lahore High Court, a forum before which she also has the right of appeal.

ALJAZEERA