Woman Sentenced To Death Over 'Blasphemous' WhatsApp Messages
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A 26-year-old woman from Pakistan has been sentenced to death over allegedly 'blasphemous' WhatsApp messages.
Aneeqa Ateeq, who resides in Rawalpinidi, Pakistan, was arrested in May 2020 and charged with sharing content deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammed and his wife.
She was sentenced to death on January 19, 2022, over the alleged messages, which were collected from her WhatsApp exchange with a man whose advances she had earlier rejected.
In his verdict statement from the case, Judge Adnan Mushtaq said 'the blasphemous material, which was shared/installed by the female accused on her status, and the messages as well as caricatures, which were sent to the complainant, are totally unbearable and not tolerable for a Muslim'.
The court then ordered Ateeq be 'hanged by her neck till she is dead'.
Ateeq was also given a 20 year prison sentence and a fine of around $852, which is yet to be confirmed by the Lahore high court.
Ateeq denied the charges and said that the man whose advances she had rejected, Hasnat Farooq, roped her into the conversation.
The pair met on PUBG, an online gaming app, and communicated over WhatsApp.
In a statement, Ateeq said of the case 'I feel that he intentionally dragged into this topic for revenge, that’s why he registered a case against me, and during chat he collected everything that went against me'.
Reportedly, Farooq said that Ateeq had shared the blasphemous content in a WhatsApp status, after he had warner her it was offensive.
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan state that insults against the Prophet Muhammed are given the death sentence.
There has been growing concern amongst human rights groups that these laws could be used to enact revenge against individuals.
According to Vice, Ateeq is just part of a rising trend of women in Pakistan being coerced into relationships by men online.
Usama Khilji, a digital rights activist, said that this recent trend, coupled with the blasphemy laws could be 'used to settle personal scores'.
Khilji said 'activists have been warning of the blasphemy law being used to settle personal scores. The blasphemy law is a weapon used by those who wield power to further render others powerless'.
She went on to say 'at the intersection of power, religion and gender are combined to punish a woman for refusing to give in to the entitlement of a man and hence this punishment'.