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Pakistan: Death penalty over killing of Sri Lankan accused of blasphemy

WorldPakistan: Death penalty over killing of Sri Lankan accused of blasphemy

Islamabad (Times Of Ocean)- Six men have been sentenced to death for killing a Sri Lankan man allegedly accused of blasphemy in Pakistan.

Last December, Priyantha Diyawadanage, 48, a factory manager in the city of Sialkot, was beaten to death and then set on fire.

Nine of the 88 convicted people received life sentences, and the rest received jail terms between two and five years.

The case shocked the country, and Imran Khan referred to it as “a day of shame”.

On social media, videos showed the angry crowd dragging Diyawadanage from his workplace and beating him to death.

Then they burned his body and several people took selfies with his corpse.

As the violence began, rumours spread that Diyawadanage had committed a blasphemous act by tearing down posters bearing the name of Muhammad.

A colleague who rushed to the site in an attempt to save him told local media at the time that Diyawadanage only removed the posters because the building was about to be cleaned.

The brutal killings of hundreds of people shocked the nation and sparked vigils.

Blasphemy occurs when one insults a particular religion or god. Anyone who insults Islam could be executed in Pakistan.

Blasphemy law in the country prohibits disturbing religious assembly, trespassing on burial grounds, insulting religious beliefs, or destroying or defiling objects of worship.

In 1982, a new provision that stipulated life imprisonment for “wilful” desecration of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, was added for making derogatory remarks about Islamic figures.

To punish blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, a separate clause was added in 1986 and the recommended penalty was “death or life imprisonment”.

Even unfounded accusations in Pakistan can trigger protests and mob violence against alleged perpetrators. The human rights movement has long argued that minorities are often falsely accused.

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