Two men have been arrested in Pakistan’s Punjab province for allegedly committing blasphemy on social media, the punishment of which is either life imprisonment or the death penalty.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Lahore on Monday arrested Muhammad Usama Shafiq and Maisam Abbas on a complaint that they had allegedly insulted the Prophet and defiled the holy Quran on Facebook and Whatsapp groups.
An FIA official told PTI on Tuesday that both suspects had uploaded objectionable videos along with Quranic verses on Facebook. They also shared such material on a WhatsApp group.
”Under the law, the suspects committed blasphemy in the honor of the Prophet and Allah and defiled the Quran,” the official said, adding that the two have been booked under relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.
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Both the suspects were produced before a magistrate who sent them to jail for judicial remand. Usama is from Lahore and Maisam from Mandi Bahauddin district of Punjab and they were Facebook friends, the official said.
The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1986 added Section 295C to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to provide the death penalty or life imprisonment to a person defiling the name of the Prophet.
The blasphemy laws are usually misused to hound members of minority communities in Pakistan, grab land and property, and settle personal scores. Even unproven allegations of insulting Islam risk a violent and bloody death instantly at the hands of the mob.
According to reports, allegations in Pakistan progress beyond vigilantism to the criminal justice system, lawyers are murdered for taking cases of alleged blasphemers. Judges, if they do not shy away from hearing a blasphemy case, won’t deliver judgments that will offend hardline Islamists.