Man jailed for 13 years for Facebook 'hate speech'

By AFP
Published: November 23, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

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.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Nov 23, 2015 - 6:55PM

    A shia gets jailed for 13 years for hate speech, yet Ishaq Malik and his companions in PMLN, alongside Nizam Nawaz Sharif have been forcing a genocide on Shias, and they don’t get prosecuted, they get elected into office. What has Pakistan become? Shame on us for elected such corrupt leaders.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Invincible
    Nov 23, 2015 - 7:11PM

    Not sure if you can notice the difference,

    “In May an imam in the Kasur district of Punjab was jailed for five years for inciting hate against a rival minority Shia sect”

    An Imam is a responsible person who knows more than a common man, he was sentenced for 5 years only where a Common Man was sentenced for 13 years + Fine. What’s the difference? One who got Harsh Treatment from court was Shia.

    Being Shia isn’t just a crime in eyes of LeJ or SSP, it is also the case with courts.Recommend

  • ovais
    Nov 23, 2015 - 7:11PM

    Just because the guy is a shia , Human rights are concerned had this been the other way round they will keep quire. the biasness is obvious . We should all stop hate speech.Recommend

  • Syedpk
    Nov 23, 2015 - 7:40PM

    Good start but 13 years (for not a religious leader) is too much for first time offendor . Should start with 2-3 months, and should apply to other sects alsoRecommend

  • Atif Ejaz
    Nov 23, 2015 - 7:55PM

    Excellent, no hate speech by followers of any religion should be tolerated. Recommend

  • just_someone
    Nov 23, 2015 - 8:22PM

    So when someone says something against Islam, they are punished but when they say something against another religion or another sect (esp if they are Sunni), they are let go?
    What kind of justice is this?
    And Im sunni for anyone who thinks Im saying this because of personal animosity or connection…Recommend

  • unbiased
    Nov 23, 2015 - 9:29PM

    6 months for the leader of a banned organisation who spoke about killing shias in a public gathering and 13 years for posting hateful content against prophet’s companions on facebook … seems legit !!! Recommend

  • Panjabi-Kuda
    Nov 23, 2015 - 9:58PM

    This process is called purification in the Land of the Pure.Recommend

  • Malatesh
    Nov 23, 2015 - 10:00PM

    Lol.. I see many news anchors often making hatred remark on Hindu and Jewish community on their TV show… Oh sorry, that must be a freedom of speech….Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 23, 2015 - 10:27PM

    Good decision. I am ShiaI believe no one should be allowed to spread hate.Recommend

  • Jibran
    Nov 23, 2015 - 11:08PM

    It’s easy if it is any sect other than wahabism. At the atrocities of the latter, the state looks the other way.Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Nov 23, 2015 - 11:11PM

    Meanwhile Laal Masjid’s Abdul Aziz roams free….Are the courts catching any terrorists or violent extremists at all? Read elsewhere that in questionable cases the courts are putting to death civilians accused of non-terrorist related crimes at alarming rates. I would think the hate speech such a court would pursue would involve violent threats or instigation against another group, not some foul mouthed ideologue.Recommend

  • maira
    Nov 23, 2015 - 11:55PM

    @ Invincible, the difference is that the imam did a hate speech against the hate mongers only. The common man insulted the Sahaba who are the best of the people after prophets. 13 years is very small punishment. Hope u see the light In’sha’Allah.Recommend

  • Feedback
    Nov 24, 2015 - 12:45AM

    The freedom of expression is a mere joke, you can’t express what you think any more. 13 years??? I think in the near future, the social media will only be used by ISPR. And only mr bajwa will be tweeting. New World Order is here bros!!!Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    Nov 24, 2015 - 1:35AM

    13 years imprisonment is over-exaggerated for a brainwashed, whose hand was placed on his chest as he was born. He has become what they wanted him to become. His brainwashers should take the responsibility and go for him in the prison.Recommend

  • Nov 24, 2015 - 2:14AM

    @just_someone:
    they are actually killed and burnt in pakistan , where do u live !Recommend

  • Zulqarnain
    Nov 24, 2015 - 8:01AM

    Justice system moves quickly to punish Shias.Recommend

  • Muslim
    Nov 24, 2015 - 2:23PM

    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.Recommend

  • Disgusting
    Nov 24, 2015 - 8:40PM

    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.Recommend

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