A Muslim woman has been sentenced to death Wednesday by a Pakistani court for blasphemy. Aneeqa Ateeq, 26, was found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad through text messages she had sent to a friend. 

According to Al Jazeera, Judge Adnan Mushtaq wrote Ateeq’s verdict which stated she had shared blasphemous material through WhatsApp to a male friend. The said messages also included caricatures which the judge described as “totally unbearable for a Muslim”.

Ateeq was arrested in May 2020 after her male friend alerted police that she had sent him sacrilegious caricatures of the Prophet. Under Pakistan’s laws, the offense is punishable by mandatory death. The young woman pleaded not guilty to the charges and said her accuser, Hasnat Farooq, had deliberately pushed her into a religious discussion after she had refused “to be friendly” with him. She had met Farooq on a popular multiplayer game channel and had been communicating on WhatsApp since.

In her evidentiary statement, Ateeq said, “So I feel that he intentionally dragged into this topic for revenge.”

Meanwhile, Farooq contended that the woman had the blasphemous material posted as her WhatsApp status and refused to delete it when he confronted her about it.

A court order stated she has been ordered to serve 10 years in jail on top of her death sentence. However, her death sentence is still subject to confirmation by the Lahore High Court where she is given the right to appeal. 

Her death sentence was announced by the court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Such cases are known to draw much condemnation from human rights activists, and authorities expect the sentence will cause just as many riots. Human rights advocates say such blasphemy allegations are merely often used to intimidate religious minorities or as a means to settle personal rifts. 

In a tally made by Al Jazeera, at least 80 people have been killed in connection with allegations of blasphemy since 1990. These deaths included those of people accused of the crime, along with their family members and their lawyers. 

Legal proceedings in Pakistan on such cases are known to be often biased against the accused party. International rights groups have called out these trials as “unfair” as investigations usually do not meet due diligence.

tradition-3635884_960_720 Representation Image Muslim women using smartphones hjrivas/ Pixabay