Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Pakistani Court Sentences Student to Death, Teen to Life in Prison in Islamic Blasphemy Trial

A court in Pakistan sentenced a 22-year-old student to death and gave a teenager a life sentence last week after finding them guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Attorney Aslam Gujar represented student Junaid Munir and said a judge in the city of Gujranwala in Punjab province announced the death penalty for his client after the young man was charged in 2022 for sharing “blasphemous content” on WhatsApp. 

Munir’s father, Munir Hussain, has denied the charge against his son and said his legal team will file an appeal, adding, “My son is innocent and he was implicated in a false case.”

Hussain told the Associated Press he was living in hiding along with other members of his family.

“I cannot give you any information about my exact location, as some people in our village believe that I should also be killed as I am the father of a boy who allegedly insulted Islam’s prophet,” he said. “We are Muslims. We love our prophet. No Muslim can even imagine to insult our beloved prophet, and my son is innocent.” 

As CBN News has reported, under Pakistan’s harsh Islamic blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam or Mohammad can be sentenced to death. These laws are poorly defined and require low standards of evidence. 

Munir would be one of the first to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan as authorities have yet to carry out out a death sentence for the charge. 

However, the accusation alone can provoke riots. Dozens of people have been killed by mobs for just being accused of it, and many other lives have been ruined.

According to Open Doors, Pakistan’s Senate passed a bill to tighten the country’s blasphemy law by increasing the punishment from three to ten years’ imprisonment.

The blasphemy laws are often used as a weapon of revenge against both Muslims and non-Muslims to settle personal scores or to gain the upper hand in disputes over money, property, or business.

Last August, Muslims violently attacked churches and homes of Christians in the city of Jaranwala, after two believers were charged with allegedly desecrating pages of the Koran. 

The mob burned down one church, destroyed two others, and demolished the house of a local Christian, Raja Amir.

Last June, 22-year-old Noman Masih, a Christian, was sentenced to death by a court in Bahawalpur on blasphemy charges. 

Lazar Allah Rakha, the attorney representing Masih, told Morning Star News the court announced its verdict even though the prosecution failed to provide any evidence of the blasphemy charge against him.

“I’m extremely disappointed by the conviction because there was absolutely no case,” Rakha told the outlet. “There was no proof against Noman, and none of the witnesses produced by police could corroborate the blasphemy allegation against him.”

“Despite so many contradictions in the case, I’m at a loss to understand why Bahawalpur Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Hafeez Ur Rehman sentenced Noman instead of acquitting him,” the attorney said at the time. “This is murder of justice.”

Pakistan is listed as No. 7 on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of countries where it is most dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. 

Meanwhile, in a separate verdict issued last week, 17-year-old Abdul Hanan was also convicted and sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. 

According to the Associated Press, Hanan’s lawyer and his family were not immediately available for comment. 

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