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Pakistan Catholic Man Charged with Blasphemy Under Anti-Terrorism Law

A Catholic individual in Pakistan is facing blasphemy charges under the anti-terrorism law, despite its illegality and illogical nature, as stated by his attorney, Rana Abdul Hameed.

Imran Rehman, a 32-year-old man, was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore on September 14, following allegations of sharing a blasphemous message on a WhatsApp group.

Despite the lack of legal provision for trying blasphemy cases under anti-terrorism laws, the FIA included Anti-Terrorism Act sections in the First Information Report (FIR), leading to the charges against Rehman.

Hameed asserts that the charges against Rehman are baseless, and he plans to file a motion with the Lahore High Court to drop the terrorism charges, emphasizing the severe mental and physical toll the false accusations have taken on his client. Blasphemy suspects accused under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), particularly those from vulnerable groups, undergo traumatic experiences and unfair trials.

Joseph Jansen, an advocacy officer at the Jubilee Campaign, highlights Rehman’s family’s distress and concerns for his well-being, as he was allegedly subjected to severe torture and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. The continuous registration of blasphemy cases under ATA raises concerns about the misuse of power and the urgent need for a comprehensive review of blasphemy laws and procedures to ensure fairness and protect the rights of the accused.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are incompatible with international human rights standards, as they lack the requirement for the accuser to prove malicious intent. Recently, an agreement was signed with the extremist Islamist party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), aiming to try blasphemy cases under the anti-terrorism law, further raising concerns about the misuse of legislation.

Blasphemy against Muhammad carries the death penalty in Pakistan, and the mere allegation of blasphemy can lead to mob violence and attacks, particularly on Christian settlements in Punjab Province. The use of blasphemy laws to settle personal scores or disputes poses a significant challenge in a religiously sensitive country like Pakistan…read more


Original news source: Morning Star News

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