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    A Pakistani observes the view from a dome-shaped terrace at a park in Islamabad, Pakistan

    Pakistani Man Sentenced to Death for Facebook Insult to Islam

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    In an apparent global first, a man has been sentenced to death for a Facebook post.

    After posting comments to his Facebook page that were determined to be blasphemous, a Pakistani man was arrested, and has now been sentenced to death by a court in Bahawalpur.

    The case of the 30-year-old Pakistani Facebook user is thought to be unprecedented, after the man was caught up in what appears to be an online sting.

    In the course of an online chat, Facebook user Taimoor Raza apparently stoked the ire of a Pakistani undercover anti-terror agent, who then picked over the former's social media posts, identifying statements that allowed Raza to be brought to trial.

    According to a report by a local public prosecutor, "an anti-terrorism court of Bahawalpur has awarded him the death sentence," cited by The Guardian.

    The convicted man — a member of the Shia faction of Islam, a religious minority in Pakistan — will appeal his sentence to Islamabad's Supreme Court.

    Pakistan has struggled with the separation of church and state, and many who have been sentenced with blasphemy — notably through the expression of statements considered by courts to be insulting to the Islamic prophet Mohammed — languish in prisons, awaiting execution.

    Raza, however, is thought to be the first person to be tried and convicted of insulting the prophet Mohammed and his many wives through the use of online social networks.

    Human Rights Watch and other rights organizations consider the move by the country's lower court to set a bad precedent, increasing the possibility of using online blasphemy to goad young users into incriminating themselves.

    "The casual manner in which death sentences are handed in blasphemy cases coupled with the lack of orientation of Pakistani courts with technology makes this a very dangerous situation," according to an HRW spokesperson, cited by Newser.

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    Tags:
    blasphemy, social media, online, death penalty, sentencing, Human Rights Watch, Facebook, Islamabad, Pakistan
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