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Man handed down death sentence under Pak blasphemy law

Last Updated: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 21:31

Lahore: A 35-year-old man was on Monday sentenced to death under Pakistan`s controversial blasphemy law, in the latest case highlighting religious intolerance in the country.

Lahore`s additional session`s court awarded the capital punishment to Zulfiqar Ali and also?imposed a fine of Rs 100,000 on him in a case filed in 2008.

A complaint was filed against him that year for allegedly writing blasphemous contents on a wall in the city`s Islampura area.

Ali was later arrested and charged for blasphemy. The trial continued for five years.

Judge Naveed Iqbal announced the verdict after a number of Ali`s neighbours testified against him. He denied the charges and said the complainant has implicated him as he has a monetary dispute with him.

Blasphemy is a highly-sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the 180 million population is Muslim.

And the notorious blasphemy law, with a lack of procedural safeguards, has contributed to an alarming number of mob attacks and vigilante violence.

On many occasions, mostly non-Muslims have been convicted under the law, which rights groups say must be reviewed so that it is not misused to settle personal enmity or disputes or for persecution of religious minorities.
Pakistan, which has in the past urged the UN to make blasphemy a globally recognised offence, has never carried out the death penalty for blasphemy, according to the Dawn daily.

But it is one of the countries to have the most people jailed under the law.

First Published: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 21:31
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