Pakistan

LAHORE (Web Desk) – Police in Punjab’s Sheikhupura district arrested a man for allegedly posting blasphemous content on social media.


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“The suspect, Usman Masih, a resident of Nabipura, posted blasphemous text on a social networking website, following which residents of the area lodged a complaint against him”, Dawn reported, quoting District Police Officer (DPO) Sarfraz Khan Virk.

He said police registered a case under the blasphemy law against the suspect, who was later arrested.

Initial investigations showed that the blasphemous messages were posted last year by another man, who was now living abroad, the DPO said.

No complaint was filed against the man living abroad, he added.

Related‘Leave village or convert’: Christian community threatened after member accused of blasphemy

The DPO said the social media account through which the blasphemous text was posted had been dormant for the last eight to nine months. He said an investigation was underway to verify the account details.

Police were also looking into a dispute over the teasing of girls, in a separate case, following which a complaint against the suspect, Ahsan Hasmat, also a resident of Sheikhupura, was filed at the Factory Area Police Station.

Related: Unprecedented: Four Muslims arrested under Blasphemy Law for ‘desecrating’ a minority Sikh youth’s turban in Pakistan

Earlier, Muhammad Khan Sherani, the head of Pakistan’s top religious body, had said he is willing to review blasphemy laws and see whether sentences as harsh as the death penalty were fair. Human rights and media observers have severely criticized the law over the year, calling it a “black law” and claiming that it has often been used to settle personal disputes between members of different faiths.

The chairman of Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) told an international news agency on Thursday that he was willing to reopen the debate on blasphemy laws to decide if they are Islamic.

Earlier in 2011, former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his government-appointed bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, after allegedly making a blasphemous statement in defense of Asia Bibi, a christian villager of Sheikhupura accused of blasphemy as well.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a court in Sheikhupura under the controversial blasphemy law in 2010. In 2014, her appeal against the sentence was dismissed by the Lahore High Court.

More recently, however, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended Asia’s death sentence for the duration of her appeal. Following the decision, her case is once again being heard by the Lahore High Court.

Ahmad Durrani, Associate Editor at Daily Pakistan Global, also contributed to this report.