Pakistan: 26-year-old woman given death sentence over 'blasphemous' WhatsApp status

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Jan 20, 2022, 04:56 PM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

The woman faced charges that she put caricatures of Prophet Mohammed as her WhatsApp staus and even sent the material to a friend. Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan

A 26-year-old Muslim woman in Pakistan was sentenced to death over a 'blasphemous' WhatsApp status which had caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. A court issued a summary that said that Aneeqa Ateeq (26) was arrested in May 2020. She was charged with posting 'blasphemous material' as her WhatsApp status.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and laws prohibitting it can carry a potential death sentence -- although it has never been enforced for the crime.

The court said that when a friend asked the woman to change the status, she instead forwarded the material to him. The woman was also handed a 20-year jail sentence. 

Islam forbids caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

Up to 80 people are known to be jailed in Pakistan on blasphemy charges -- half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty -- according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

While many cases involve Muslims accusing fellow Muslims, rights activists have warned that religious minorities -- particularly Christians -- are often caught in the crossfire, with blasphemy charges used to settle personal scores.

In December, a Sri Lankan factory manager working in Pakistan was beaten to death and set ablaze by a mob after being accused of blasphemy.

(With inputs from agencies)

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