The APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief today issued the following statement:
“The APPG is deeply concerned about Taimoor Raza’s conviction of blasphemy on social media on 10 June by the Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court, for which he has been handed the death penalty. Not only is this sentence a flagrant violation of international law but it is the first time someone has been charged under Article 295(c) of the Penal Code, which prohibits ‘blasphemy’, for an offence on social media.
“Raza allegedly made derogatory comments about the Prophet (PBUH), his wives and others on Facebook and having ‘blasphemous content’ in 3,000 posts on his mobile phone. The sentence sets a deeply worrying precedent from the Anti-Terrorism Court and raises serious questions about the use of anti-terrorism legislation to deny citizens their right to freedom of religion or belief and expression.
“We join with other organisations in expressing concern that this sentence will also encourage misuse of social media to lodge false accusations against innocent individuals. We urge the UK Government to join with others in making representations to the Government of Pakistan to review Taimoor Raza’s sentence and Article 295(c) of the Penal Code. We will be writing to the Pakistani High Commissioner to seek a meeting on this case.”