NANKANA SAHIB: A Christian woman was sentenced to death by an additional sessions court in Nankana Sahib for committing blasphemy on Monday.
Aasya, an Ittanwali resident, was accused of passing derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in an FIR registered with the Saddar police station by Qari Salim, a masjid imam. The FIR was registered on June 19, 2009. It was filed under Sections 295-B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code (both sections are punishable by life imprisonment or death sentence).
SK Shahid, her counsel, told The Express Tribune that he has filed an appeal with the Lahore High Court against the lower court’s judgement. He said that among other allegations, Aasya was accused of denying the prophet hood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). “How can we expect a Christian to affirm to Muslim belief?” he asked. Besides sentencing Aasiya to death, Muhammad Naveed Iqbal, the ADSJ, also imposed a fine of Rs300,000 on her. According to a newspaper’s report, on hearing the news of the quarrel several Muslim men reached the spot and tried to attack Aasya. She fled the scene yet the mob followed her all the way upto her house, the report said. Ataul Saman, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) publications head, said that the lower courts’ verdicts in blasphemy cases are mostly overturned by the high courts.
He said that their proceeding mostly take place under intense pressure. Locals, he said, gather outside the courts and chant slogans to pressure the judges into declaring the accused guilty of committing blasphemy. Saman added that NCJP research showed that up to 80 per cent of the time blasphemy charges are filed against people to settle personal scores.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2010.