Pakistani gets death sentence in Facebook blasphemy case

Taimoor Raza had a Facebook argument about Islam with someone who turned out to be a counter-terrorism department official.
Taimoor Raza had a Facebook argument about Islam with someone who turned out to be a counter-terrorism department official.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A Pakistani man has been sentenced to death for committing blasphemy on Facebook, lawyers said Saturday (June 10), the first conviction on charges arising from social media.

Judge Shabbir Ahmad Awan handed down the verdict in Bahawalpur, around 600km south of capital Islamabad, finding Taimoor Raza guilty of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, prosecutor Shafiq Qureshi told AFP.

Raza had a Facebook argument about Islam with someone who turned out to be a counter-terrorism department official, defence lawyer Rana Fida Hussain told AFP.

The official brought charges against Raza based on the comments made on the social networking site.

Hussain said his client was innocent and that he would appeal the conviction.

Blasphemy is a sensitive charge in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can trigger mob lynchings and violence.

A 10-year-old boy was killed and five others were wounded last month when a mob attacked a police station in an attempt to lynch a Hindu man charged with blasphemy for allegedly posting an incendiary image on social media.

Millions of Pakistanis have been receiving text messages from the government warning them against sharing "blasphemous" content online, a move rights activists said would encourage more vigilante attacks.