Pak awards death sentence to a man for his blasphemous Facebook post

Junaid Hafeez, who was a visiting lecturer at the Department of English Literature of the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) in Multan city of Punjab Province, was booked on blasphemy charges and was arrested by police on March 13, 2013.

Islamabad: Blasphemy is considered one of the gravest crime in Pakistan and many people in the country have been incarcerated  or awarded death penalty for committing this forbidden crime.

Junaid Hafeez, a young Muslim professor was also sentenced to death on Saturday by a Pakistani court for his blasphemous Facebook post.

In 2013, Hafeez was charged in a blasphemy case over a Facebook page. The young lecturer, who was a visiting lecturer at the Department of English Literature of the Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) in Multan city of Punjab Province, was booked on blasphemy charges and was arrested by police on March 13, 2013 and has been held in solitary confinement since June 2014.

The trial of the case started in 2014 and Hafeez has been lodged in a high-security ward of New Central Jail in Multan.

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Additional Sessions Judge Kashif Qayyum sentenced Hafeez to death and imposed a fine of Rs 0.5 million under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), the Dawn News reported.

Hafeez’s lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was shot dead in May 2014 in his office.

His parents had earlier this year appealed to former chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa to look into their son’s case. They sought justice for their son, fearing for his mental and physical health, the media said.

They had said their son had been languishing in solitary confinement in a cell of the Central Jail, Multan, for the last six years on the false charge of blasphemy.

Due to transfer of many judges, delaying tactics of prosecution witnesses, and difficulties finding adequate legal counsel for the defence because of the sensitive nature of the case, our son continues to await justice in a fabricated case, Junaid’s parents had said in a written appeal to the chief justice.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence. Anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.

Rights groups have said the blasphemy laws are routinely abused to seek vengeance and settle personal scores.

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