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Pakistan: University professor sentenced to death for blasphemy

Islamabad, December 21: A university professor in Pakistan was handed death sentence under the controversial blasphemy law on Saturday.
Junaid Hafeez was a university professor when he was arrested in March 2013 for allegedly posting derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on Facebook.
A fine of Rs 3557.07 USD was also imposed on the doctor, along with a sentence to life imprisonment. Under another section of the Pakistan Penal Code, Junaid is given another sentence of 10 years and a fine of Rs 711.41 USD.
Junaid’s lawyer Asad Jamal described the verdict as “most unfortunate”.
“We will appeal against this verdict,” Jamal said.
In conservative Muslim-majority Pakistan, blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue and in many cases, the death sentence was also given. Even unproven claims have also caused mob lynchings and vigilante murders.
The 33-year-old professor’s earlier lawyer was killed in 2014 after receiving death threats during a hearing.
Nearly 40 people convicted under this law are on death row in Pakistan, as per a 2018 estimate by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Last year, the acquittal of Asia Bibi, who was facing death row under the Blasphemy law has led to a lot of violent protests in Pakistan. Bibi, a Christian woman who had spent eight years in jail, now lives in Canada with her family.
(Wion with inputs from AFP)

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