Woman, 26, sentenced to death for blasphemous WhatsApp and Facebook messages

A woman faces execution for sending 'blasphemous' messages over WhatsApp and Facebook.

Aneeqa Ateeq has been sentenced to death by a court in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, after being found guilty of mocking Islamic beliefs.

Practising Muslim Ateeq claims she was set up and lured into a conversation about religion by the person who reported her to the police.

Despite denying the charges against her under Pakistan's cybercrime and blasphemy law, the 26-year-old will spend 20 years in jail before being hanged.

The charge sheet stated met her accuser through a mobile gaming app and the pair began chatting over social networking platform WhatsApp.

She was accused of sending blasphemous caricatures of holy prophets and making comments about “holy personages”.

Her Facebook account also carried 'blasphemous material' in other accounts and charges state “deliberately and intentionally defiles sacred righteous personalities and insulted the religious beliefs of Muslims”.

She told the court she believed the complainant "intentionally" involved her in a religious discussion to gather evidence and take “revenge” after she would not be friends with him.

Ateeq’s lawyer Syeda Rashida Zainab reportedly said: “I can’t comment on the judgment as the issue is very sensitive.”

The country is an Islamic state and regularly issues death sentences, but executions are not carried out and the accused spend their lives in jail.

Accused people are often killed by vigilantes before courts come to a verdict, The Guardian reports.

And judges rarely acquit those who are accused of blasphemy and are pressured into reaching guilty verdicts.

Pakistan has recently asked Facebook and Twitter to help identify its citizens suspected of blasphemy so it can prosecute them or pursue their extradition.

Muslims in the country have also faced blasphemy charges but the cases are heard quickly in a closed court, away from public scrutiny.

Evidence has been questioned in some cases such as in the trial of Pastor Zafar Bhatti, who was accused of sending text messages which abused the prophet Muhammad’s mother.

The alleged blasphemous texts came from a number that did not belong to him but he was sentenced to death for the charges.

Social media has become a new place for blasphemy cases, but the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) allowed the government more powers to control social media content.

For more shocking stories from the Daily Star, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here

In 2017 Taimoor Raza was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy on Facebook.

A Sri Lankan national in Pakistan was last month beaten to death and his body was set on fire by a mob after he removed religious posters from the walls of the factory he worked in.

Around 80 people in Pakistan are in prison for the crime, with at least half sentenced to death, but there have been no executions.

Source: Read Full Article