Man jailed for 13 years for Facebook 'hate speech'

Saqlain Haidar, 32, also fined Rs250,000 for 'posting hateful material against companions of Prophet Muhammad...


Afp November 23, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court has jailed a Shia Muslim for 13 years after he posted what it deemed sectarian hate speech on Facebook, officials said Monday, with rights activists condemning the ruling as "extremely concerning".

Saqlain Haidar, 32, who ran a small hotel in Chiniot was also fined Rs250,000 for "posting hateful material against companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”, an official of the Counter Terrorism Department told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Abdul Majeed, a senior local counter-terrorism official, confirmed the incident.

"The convict was arrested on October 27 after locals complained about him and he was charged for spreading sectarian hatred under various clauses of the anti-terrorism act," he told AFP.

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Majeed said the accused was released on bail a day later, then arrested and imprisoned on November 21 after the court convicted him.

In May an imam in the Kasur district of Punjab was jailed for five years for inciting hate against a rival minority Shia sect. In October a former leader of a banned sectarian party was imprisoned for six months for hate speech.

Bytes for All, a human rights group, said it had not been able to verify the details of Haidar's case, but added: "We are extremely concerned that an anti-terrorism court has been used to hear a case apparently related to online speech rather than to any violent activities."

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A spokesperson pointed banned militant groups including the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have a significant social media presence in Pakistan and "appear to be operating freely under the eyes of authorities".

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has blocked hundreds of extremist and sectarian websites and social media accounts in the past but they often pop up anew under different names.

Bytes for All said Haidar's case was the first it knew of in which someone was convicted for posting sectarian material on Facebook, but that blasphemy charges were often brought against social media users.

COMMENTS (19)

Disgusting | 7 years ago | Reply Very very recently Punjab has introduced a law that protects anyone to be called a terrorist. This law was introduced by Sialkot Punjab Police when the Lawyer son of a Lawyer took out his pistol and fired few shots that luckily hit some shutters only. He could not be tried by Anti terrorist court because he was drunk when he fired those shots. Now I suppose all terrorist will adopt this via media introduced by non other than our Police to avoid trial in ATC.
Muslim | 7 years ago | Reply 13 years??? 4745 days? Unjust judicial system. Atleast those who are sitting in top chairs at the courts should be unbiased. Only shows, not just the man who got imprisoned was intolerant but the judicial system too is intolerant.
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