Taimoor Raza, a Pakistani man was sentenced to death for blasphemy on Facebook, his lawyers said Saturday, a first such conviction based on charges related to activities on the social network.
Judge Shabbir Ahmad Awan delivered his verdict in Bahawalpur, some 600 kilometers south of Islamabad, declaring Taimoor Raza guilty of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, said prosecutor Shafiq Qureshi. The convicted man had quarreled over the social network about Islam with a person who turned out to be a member of the Pakistani anti-terrorist ministry, said defense lawyer Rana Fida Hussain.
The official in charge filed a complaint against Taimoor Raza based on his comments on the social network. The lawyer felt that his client was innocent and would appeal.
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive subject in Pakistan, a conservative Muslim country, where even unproven accusations can inflame the population, resulting in lynching or other violence. Islamabad threatened in March to block several social networks over blasphemy complaints. In May, the government warned its citizens by SMS about potential crimes on social media.
A ten-year-old boy was killed and five others injured last month during an attack on a police station by an angry mob who wanted to lynch a Hindu mob accused of blasphemy. The latter would have published an image considered incendiary on the social network.