Islamabad: On Wednesday, a Pakistani court sentenced a Muslim man to death and levied a fine of USD 3,085 on him for blasphemy in the province of Punjab.
Amin, a resident of the district of Layyah, some 400 km from Lahore, was arrested a few years ago on an accusation from his neighbor that he had committed blasphemy. The District and Session Court of Layyah handed down the death penalty to Amin and also levied a fine of 500,000 Pakistani Rupee (USD 3,085) on him.
Additional Sessions Judge Hasnain Raza sentenced him to death in the presence of prosecution witnesses. Earlier this month, in an unusual decision, the High Court of Lahore absolved a Christian man sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Sawan Masih, a street sweeper in Lahore, was absolved after spending more than six years on death row. He was sentenced to blasphemy by the court in 2013. News of the suspected blasphemy triggered demonstrations, and a mob tormented more than 100 Christian homes in Lahore’s Joseph Colony.
This was the second instance of blasphemy in which a Christian had been absolved after Asia Bibi. Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven accusations sometimes contributing to mob violence.
Anyone convicted or even accused of insulting Islam is at risk of a brutal and bloody death by vigilantes. Rights advocates also claimed that blasphemy laws are systematically exploited to gain retribution and settle personal scores. (PTI)