Pakistan shopkeeper gets life term for blasphemy

A shopkeeper has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court for an act of blasphemy in Pakistan`s biggest city.

PTI| Last Updated: May 09, 2014, 23:50 PM IST

Karachi: A shopkeeper has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a local court for an act of blasphemy in Pakistan`s biggest city.

The district and sessions court here ruled that there was enough evidence to sentence Malik Farooq for tearing up a banner which had the name of the Prophet and other Quranic verses inscribed on it, in February, 2013.

In many instances, mostly non-Muslims have been convicted under Pakistan`s controversial blasphemy law which human rights groups say must be reviewed so that it is not misused to settle personal enmity or disputes or for persecution of religious minorities.

Judge Nadeem Ahmed Khan also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Farooq who will have to undergo further six months of imprisonment if he fails to pay the fine.

The accused took the plea before the court that he was framed in the case as he had a dispute with the management of a mosque adjacent to his shop but the court ruled he had not produced any evidence to support his claim while the three prosecution witnesses who deposed against him all stood firm in their testimony.
According to the prosecution, Farooq and the main complainant, Tahir Hussain Shah, had shops adjacent to the mosque in Qayyumabad and in January, 2013, the accused with his friend tore up the banner and threw it in a dustbin.
The co-accused escaped from the scene but Farooq was caught and beaten up by an angry mob and handed over to the police who booked him under the blasphemy law.