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Pakistani court sentences 22-year-old to death for insulting Prophet Muhammad

A Pakistani court has sentenced 22-year-old Junaid Munir to death for insulting the Muhammad, the prophet of the country's state-enforced Islamic religion.

A Pakistani court sentenced a 22-year-old student to death and gave a teenager a life sentence in two separate cases after finding them guilty of insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad, a defense lawyer and officials said Monday.

Both had denied the charges and have the right to appeal.

Aslam Gujar, a lawyer who represented student Junaid Munir, told The Associated Press that the judge in the city of Gujranwala in Punjab province announced the death penalty for his client last week. The trial stemmed from charges brought in 2022 that Munir shared blasphemous content via WhatsApp.


Also last week, 17-year-old Abdul Hanan was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a separate case in the same court, according to court documents. Hanan's lawyer and family were not immediately available for comment.

Munir's father, Munir Hussain, denied the charge against his son, saying he was in contact with his legal team to file an appeal, as "my son is innocent and he was implicated in a false case."

Hussain said by phone that he was living in hiding along with other members of his family.

"I cannot give you any information about my exact location, as some people in our village believe that I should also be killed as I am the father of a boy who allegedly insulted Islam's prophet," he said. "We are Muslims. We love our prophet. No Muslim can even imagine to insult our beloved prophet, and my son is innocent," he said.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting the religion or religious figures can be sentenced to death. While authorities have yet to carry out a death sentence for blasphemy, just the accusation can provoke riots.

Domestic and international human rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and to settle personal scores. In August 2023, Muslims attacked churches and homes of Christians in the city of Jaranwala, in the eastern Punjab province, over allegations that a Christian man had desecrated Islam's holy book, the Quran. The mob demolished the man’s house, burned churches and damaged dozens of other homes, drawing condemnation from the government and rights groups.

In December 2021, hundreds of people descended on a sports equipment factory in the Sialkot district, killing a Sri Lankan man and burning his body publicly over allegations of blasphemy.

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