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ICC Note:

Three more individuals have been sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. This time, the three men belong to the country’s Ahmadi community, a highly persecuted religious minority many Muslims in Pakistan believe are heretics. The incident that led to the charges of blasphemy was when the Ahmadi men were accused for tearing down a religious poster. Religious minorities, including Christians, are often charged and convicted on little to no evidence when it comes to blasphemy. The blasphemy laws are widely abused to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred against a particular community.  

10/16/2017 Pakistan (Asia News) – A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced three Ahmadi men to death for violating the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed were found guilty and convicted by the trial court Wednesday for insulting the prophet of Islam.

The three Ahmadi had been arrested in May 2014 in a remote village in Punjab province after residents filed a complaint with the police and accused the defendants of tearing down a religious poster.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, which is considered “heretic” in Pakistan, told Voice of America that “the charges against the defendants and the court’s verdict were unfair. The convicted men were trying to take down a poster, which had anti-Ahmadi slogans and text that urged the community to socially boycott the already persecuted Ahmadi community.”

The death sentence comes just a few days from another episode that involved members of the religious minority. Last week, retired captain Muhammad Safdar, a member of the ruling party and son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly denounced the Ahmadi community as a threat to Pakistan and urged the country’s authorities not to recruit them for the military or the civil service.

Safdar’s remarks sparked a debate in the country on the issue of minorities and their rights. Nawaz Sharif distanced himself from his son-in-law statement yesterday. “I declare it in categorical and unequivocal terms that all minorities living in Pakistan enjoy complete fundamental rights, including protection to their lives and property, under the Constitution and Islamic teachings,” Mr Sharif said.

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