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)