Three Ahmadiyya Members Get Death Sentence for ‘Blasphemy’ in Pak

The convicts admitted they removed the posters but not to commit blasphemy.

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Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against the sentence of convicted killer Mumtaz Qadri in Karachi in 2015. Qadri was convicted for killing Pakistani Governor Salman Taseer for supporting the repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws. Image used for representational purposes. 
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Three members of the persecuted Ahmadiyya community have been sentenced to death in Pakistan's Punjab province for committing ‘blasphemy’ by tearing up posters that demanded boycott of the minority sect.

They have also been fined Rs 2,00,000 each, and should they fail to pay the fine, they will be subjected to six months of rigorous punishment. Additional District and Sessions Judge of Sheikhupura district of Punjab province Mian Javed Akram announced the verdict on 11 October after the prosecution submitted evidence and presented all witnesses in the case.

A blasphemy case was registered against them in May 2014 for tearing religious posters.

According to Sharqpur police station official Muhammad Ashar, the people had displayed posters in the village urging social boycott of the Ahmadiyya community. He said, "The posters carried Islamic verses." On removing the posters, a complaint was filed against the three men that led to their subsequent arrest.

The convicts admitted before the court that they had removed the posters for demanding social boycott of Ahmadiyya community but not to commit blasphemy.

Their counsel will challenge the verdict in the higher court. On Wednesday, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's son-in- law Mohammad Safdar launched a tirade against the Ahmaddiya community, demanding their exclusion from the government and military services.

The Ahmadiyya community was declared non-Muslims in Pakistan through a constitutional amendment in 1974 during the tenure of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

This measure was later followed with former President General Zia-ul-Haq, making it a punishable offence for Ahmadiyyas to call themselves Muslim or to refer to their faith as Islam. The community is also banned from preaching as well as from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. They are also not allowed to publish any material propagating their faith.

Members of the community in Pakistan have often been targeted.

Also Read: Pakistan’s Medieval Blasphemy Laws in Desperate Need of Overhaul

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