Death sentences were handed down in the case of a blasphemy-related killing in Pakistan.
Pakistan: Six men have been given the death penalty in Pakistan after a mob killed a Sri Lankan man accused of blasphemy. Last December, Priyantha Diyawadanage, 48, a factory manager in Sialkot, was beaten to death and his body set on fire. Nine of the 88 persons convicted were given life sentences, while the rest were sentenced to two to five years in prison.
The case horrified the country, and then-Prime Minister Imran Khan called it “a day of disgrace.” On social media, videos of the lynching showed an enraged crowd taking Mr. Diyawadanage from his office and beating him to death. They then set fire to his body, with numerous individuals in the crowd posing for photographs with his charred remains.
Nilushi Dissanayaka, the victim’s wife, said she had watched him “being abused on the internet… it was very horrible.” After rumors spread that Mr. Diyawadanage had supposedly committed blasphemy by ripping down posters bearing the Prophet Muhammad’s name, the violence began.
Mr. Diyawadanage had just removed the posters because the building was due to be cleaned, according to a colleague who hurried to the scene in an attempt to save him. The scope of the heinous crime, which included hundreds of people, horrified the country and prompted vigils.
Blasphemy is defined as speaking insultingly about a particular religion or god. In Pakistan, it can carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam
Disturbing a religious assembly, trespassing on burial grounds, insulting religious beliefs, or willfully harming or defiling a place or object of worship are all prohibited under the country’s blasphemy law.
A separate clause was added in 1986 to penalize blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, with the sentence proposed being “death or life imprisonment.” Even false accusations can spark protests and mob violence against accused criminals in Pakistan. Human rights activists have long claimed that minorities are frequently accused.
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