Pakistan Sentences Christian to Death for ‘Blasphemous’ TikTok Post


In a controversial and alarming decision, a Pakistani court has sentenced a young Christian man to death over allegations of sharing blasphemous content on TikTok. This case has ignited widespread concern among human rights groups and the international community over the use and abuse of Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy laws.

The incident took place in Bahawalpur, where 22-year-old Noman Masih was accused of posting blasphemous material on TikTok. According to reports, a local shop owner, Muhammad Ashfaq, and another man, Naveed, claimed that Masih's content insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. This accusation led to Masih’s arrest and subsequent trial under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, specifically Section 295-C, which mandates the death penalty for derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad​​.

On July 1, the Additional Sessions Judge, Khalid Wazir, announced the death sentence for Masih. The decision was met with shock and dismay by Masih's family and human rights activists. Nasir Saeed, Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), criticized the judgment, highlighting that such cases often stem from personal vendettas and are used to target minorities. He noted that lower courts in Pakistan rarely acquit individuals accused of blasphemy due to immense pressure from religious groups​​.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations have repeatedly called for the repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which are frequently misused to persecute religious minorities and settle personal scores. The misuse of these laws has led to numerous incidents of vigilante justice and mob violence, often resulting in the death or severe injury of the accused. Since 1990, at least 65 people have been killed over blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, underscoring the deadly consequences of such accusations​​.

The international community has expressed significant concern over the latest death sentence. The British government and other international bodies have urged Pakistan to address the misuse of blasphemy laws and protect the rights of religious minorities. The ongoing International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief has also seen participants condemning Pakistan's handling of blasphemy cases and calling for reforms​.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan have a long and contentious history. Originally intended to prevent religious hatred, these laws have often been exploited to justify violence against minority communities.

The increasing use of social media as a platform for expression has exacerbated the issue, leading to more frequent accusations and harsher penalties. Cases like those of Asif Pervaiz and Aneeqa Atiq, who were also sentenced to death for blasphemy related to social media posts, illustrate the growing trend of using these laws to silence dissent​​.

The sentencing of Noman Masih to death for a TikTok post is a stark reminder of the urgent need for legal reforms in Pakistan. The international community, along with human rights organizations, continues to advocate for the protection of religious minorities and the repeal of blasphemy laws that perpetuate injustice and violence. As Pakistan grapples with these challenges, the world watches closely, hoping for a shift towards greater tolerance and legal fairness.


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