Accessibility links

Breaking News

Muslim Woman In Pakistan Sentenced To Death For 'Blasphemous' Text Messages

A Pakistani court has sentenced a Muslim woman to death after convicting her of sending a blasphemous text message and caricatures of Prophet Muhammad to a friend.

The court in the city of Rawalpindi on January 19 ordered Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, to be "hanged by her neck till she is dead." She was also given a long-term prison sentence.

Ateeq was arrested in May 2020 and charged with posting "blasphemous material" as her WhatsApp status, according to a summary issued by the court.

It said that when a friend urged her to change it, she instead forwarded the material to him.

Images depicting Prophet Muhammad are deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.

Blasphemy is an explosive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where laws prohibiting it can carry a potential death sentence -- although it has never been enforced for the crime.

According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, up to 80 people are known to be imprisoned in the country on blasphemy charges, half of whom face life in prison or the death penalty.

Critics say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are unevenly applied and frequently abused to settle personal disputes.

Even unproven allegations of blasphemy can stir up violence and large protests in the country.

Last month, a Sri Lankan factory manager in Punjab Province was abducted by a mob, tortured, and publicly burned to death after pages of Koran were allegedly found in the victim's office dustbin.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.