A 22-year-old student in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy over WhatsApp messages, as per a recent ruling by a court in Punjab province. The charges stem from photos and videos containing derogatory language about Prophet Muhammad. In a separate but related case, a 17-year-old student received a life imprisonment sentence, spared from the death penalty due to his status as a minor.

Blasphemy remains a capital offense in Pakistan, though no executions have taken place till now. However, this contentious issue often results in violent reactions from impassioned mobs, sometimes even leading to lynching.

The cybercrime unit of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore initiated action against the students following a complaint filed in 2022. The complainant alleged the receipt of offensive materials from three different mobile numbers, prompting the investigation.

Growing blasphemy cases

Lawyers representing the accused students claim that they have been framed in a false case. The father of the student facing the death penalty is set to file an appeal in the Lahore High Court.

This development raises renewed concerns about the application and misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Earlier, over 80 Christian homes and 19 churches were vandalized last year in Jaranwala, after accusations against two Christian brothers of “desecrating” the Quran. These events highlight the challenges faced by religious minorities in the country.

Similarly, in last September another Christian family of Shaukat Masih was charged under Blasphemy laws in Lahore. The case was registered after some papers were found outside his house which were alleged to be of Quran. The man later clarified about his lack of awareness for any such incident and if something happened, it must have been done by his minor kids. Evidently, the tough blasphemous rules in a deeply radicalised society is posing serious threat and challenge to the followers of other religion.

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