Pakistan Sentences First Person To Death Over Social Media Posts

from the dislike dept

With the ubiquity of social media presence in people's daily lives, the past few years has seen the rise of concern over people's privacy of their social media accounts, as well as concern over how content shared on those accounts could be used against the account holder. In America, this commonly breaks mostly into concerns about prospective employers reviewing social media accounts during the hiring process and how government reviews social media accounts for law enforcement purposes. While there are real concerns to be had in both cases, however, it's useful to be reminded that there are places where it is so much worse. Useful in that it's good to be reminded what privacy advocates are fighting to keep us from. Such as death.

In Pakistan, the government there has reached the unfortunate milestone of sentencing its first ever person to death over content he put on Facebook.

On Saturday, 30-year-old Taimoor Raza became the first person to receive a death sentence in a Pakistan anti-terrorism court for "using derogatory remarks ... in respect of the Holy Prophet" on social media.

Amnesty International's Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said in a statement the conviction set a "dangerous precedent."

"No one one should be hauled before an anti-terrorism court or any other court solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief online," she said.

While the rules and laws of countries vary greatly, it should be an uncontroversial stance to state that no person should be sentenced to death over what amounts to speech and thought. Even those confused into thinking that supporting multiculturalism requires the absence of a moral stance on whether criticism of any particular faith ought to come with any punishment whatsoever must be capable of acknowledging that death sentences ought not be on the table for consideration. But, should someone want to argue that point, it should at least be understood that these kinds of laws pretty much have abuse of the law baked into them.

A 2016 report by Amnesty International found the laws are "open to abuse" and anyone who is accused is usually presumed to be guilty, leaving them open to mob retribution. There were 91 blasphemy cases concerning the Prophet or his companions registered between 2011 and 2015, the report said.

Specific blasphemy laws which punished perceived insults to Islam were introduced between 1980 and 1986, during a period of martial law under the military government of General Zia-ul-Haq. They were never removed once martial law ended.

The genesis of these laws should tell you all you need to know about their virtue, which is to say they have none. It also demonstrates the fear that regimes of this kind have in regards to the sort of wide-ranging communications tool that Facebook represents. This all comes down to controlling thought within the citizenry out of fear of a change in social opinion, which would deprive that regime of the power it wields so perniciously. With that in mind, actions taken by governments of this kind deserve the broadest and harshest condemnation, and damn well ought to weigh on foreign policy as well.

Put more simply, if governments, including America's, can't take a stand against death sentences over Facebook posts, it cedes the moral high ground to an astounding degree.


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  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 22 Jun 2017 @ 1:52pm

    death sentence

    The US executes people. The death penalty is ridiculous regardless of the crime. Critique your own country first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 22 Jun 2017 @ 2:26pm

    The religion of peace at work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:28pm

      Re:

      If the Holy Prophet's religion cannot withstand even the tiniest amount of criticism or mockery, then the religion isn't a very good one, and that prophet looks more delusional than holy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:38pm

      Re:

      Christianity is just a couple centuries ahead of them when it comes to death penalties for blasphemy. And that can be attributed to the religion's loss of political power.

      Prison for blasphemy is still a thing in some Christian countries. And was in the United States less than a century ago.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Prison for blasphemy is still a thing in some Christian countries.

        Which?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Christianity is just a couple centuries ahead of them when it comes to death penalties for blasphemy. A huge misreading of history here. Christianity itself has never imposed death penalties for blasphemy. What has actually happened is that Christianity, after 300 or so years of peaceful persuasion, was adopted by the Roman state. That state was in the habit of using religion as a means of control. When the state first wanted to kill someone for blasphemy the Church opposed it and both ordinary Christians and church authorities have taken that line ever since. The reality is that the ending of cruel punishments for such "crimes" is a triumph of Christianity. In addition - where the Chrsitian tradition has been removed by secularists (as in Soviet Russia) cruel punishments for "blasphemy" against atheist belief systems have been imposed.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:46pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          People were killed for blasphemy all over Europe - and the Christian-colonies of the new world - with no Romans in the vicinity.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          elric (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 2:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition. Or indeed the Inquisition as a whole in which the Catholic Church ran rampant across Europe and the New World and lasted for over half a millennium (the last Inquisition-related execution occurred in 1826).

          Every point you discussed about the state corrupting the values of Christianity to reinforce their own control over the population can equally be applied to the militant Islamic states today.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Daniel Audy (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 8:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That is quite the 'No True Scotsman' argument.

          Christianity as it has existed for the vast majority of its history and the direct predecessor to the Christianity of the present is the one that executed people rather than what you cite as the 'real' Christianity which hasn't existed for 1700 years. Beyond that, your history is so bad as to be laughable because whether or not the church opposed blasphemy executions 1700 years ago they gleefully endorsed them, and holy wars, over the next millennia and a half. Christianity has a long bloody history that has been largely halted in the last two centuries thanks to the rise of the secular state and democracies. When Islamic nations become democratic and then secular we should expect to see their equally bloody history slide to a halt as well.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JoeCool (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 8:57am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So... another 200, maybe 300 years and you MIGHT be able to live with them. Good to know.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Daniel Audy (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 9:09am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              We would be able to get along just fine now if 'progressive' Britain and US hadn't overthrown Iran and turned it into a theocratic state. Back in the mid 1900's Iran was an extremely progressive democratic state with freedom of religion and gender equality on par with or better than many European nations that are now considered exemplary members of EU and NATO for rights. But the democratically elected government decided to stop letting Britain rob them with contracts signed at gunpoint and so the firm believers in democracy and self determination funded a revolution and installed a theocratic dictatorship in its place, but the important thing was that that dictatorship let them keep taking its oil without payment. And since then nothing bad has happened as a result of Iran being a theocratic dictatorship instead of the democratic beacon in the region so it all worked out in the end.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 3:07am

        Re: Re:

        It's also worth noting that it's really only the First Amendment and its explicit prohibition of establishing a state religion that stops the US from still doing this. Listen to the rhetoric from the Christian fundamentalists, then try telling me they wouldn't jump at the chance to do this and worse if they were allowed to.

        Anyone who thinks this is something unique to a specific religion, rather than something that any theocracy would happily do, is fooling themselves.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 6:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly - they do not want sharia law, they want GOP law which is basically the same thing using a different religion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:53pm

      Re:

      The religion of peace at work.

      As in "rest in peace" in a grave.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:07pm

      Re:

      Says the tool who got his doctorate in comparative religion from Fox News University.

      Did they teach you all about American foreign policy there too?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 7:17pm

      Re:

      What an odd name for Christianity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 8:58am

      Re:

      You know how easy it is to insult someone who's been dead for centuries.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/06/muslims-outraged-billboard-proph et-mohammed/373120001/

      Of course, it's all alternative facts anyway...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 2:29pm

    When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

    Erdogan may be a thin-skinned thug, but as far as I know he's never sentenced someone to death for saying mean things about him, so at least he hasn't sunk as low as the pathetic ninnies in Pakistan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:06pm

      Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

      This isn't about insulting just anyone. The insultee is none other than islam's prophet Muhammed. Islam as a whole has a zero-tolerance policy for disparagement of its prophet. The insulter is an infidel and must die. There is no such thing as "freedom of speech/thought/anything" in the world of islam. It is a religion utterly incompatible with the west and should be barred as such.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:16pm

        Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

        That makes perfect sense - if you're a rapid right wing ideologue that doesn't know anything about anything.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

          Kill him!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

          That makes perfect sense - if you're a rapid right wing ideologue that doesn't know anything about anything. Actually he is right - and it is you who knows nothing about islam - apart from the plausible lies that are so often told to defend it. It is a source of great sadness to me that so many on the left of politicis have been hoodwinked by these lies.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 9:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

          And those people who don't know anything obviously imagined the fallout from the Danish cartoons, right?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:39pm

        Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

        Nonsense. The Christian Bible has much the same rules dictating death and violence for infidels as the Koran. (And for other transgressions. The Bible dictates your death for wearing a cotton/polyester blend, for example.)

        Christian Europe - from France in the east to the Ukraine in the west - killed six million Jews a few decades back. It wasn't just the Germans taking part. There were pogroms AFTER the war. And plenty of other examples of Christian violence against "infidels" before and since.

        And yet we still find Christianity "compatible with the west." Just not the extremist interpretations. You can say, "Those extremists don't represent Christianity!" But they do, to the same extent that the extremists in Pakistan represent Islam.

        Here in Canada a decade ago a small group of Muslims called for court-recognized Islamic arbitration panels based on sharia law, that their own people could use. They were shouted down - marches even held to protest them - by a much, MUCH larger group of Muslims who had had enough of that crap in the old world and wanted no part of it here. The extremists do not represent them.

        (The upshot: Someone pointed out that there were similar Jewish arbitration panels recognized by the Ontario government. Canadians went "Wait.... what?" and those were shut down.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

          Nonsense. The Christian Bible has much the same rules dictating death and violence for infidels as the Koran. (And for other transgressions. The Bible dictates your death for wearing a cotton/polyester blend, for example.)

          You seem to be confusing the Jewish old testament with the new testament. The old testament was pre-Chist. If you want to talk about the teachings of Christ, you need to look at the new testament.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 3:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

            In that case, why is the old testament part of the Christian bible?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 5:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

              Historical reference. The New Testament is also published separately by itself.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2017 @ 10:11am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

                Holy crap is this wrong. Maybe you should actually look up the history of the Bible and the Jewish texts.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 9:57pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

            In which Jesus says "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

            So, no. The new testament does not nullify the old one.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 8:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

              "So, no. The new testament does not nullify the old one."

              Well, that's obviously what some believe. Challenging the old Jewish laws even got Christ crucified.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 9:58pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

                Well, that's obviously what the bible teaches.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2017 @ 10:08am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

                  Well, that's obviously what the bible teaches.

                  Teaches the history, which is different from instructing.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2017 @ 9:45pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

                    So, the 600+ commandments in the bible are no instructions?

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Daniel Audy (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

        Islam is just as compatible with free speech and thought as Christianity. The reason that we don't have progressive Islamic nations with 'western' style values is that we (progressive westerners) keep overthrowing the middle eastern governments who are supporters of democracy and freedom of speech and religion (see Iran) because they insist that the rights and needs of their citizens should override the desires and profits of foreign countries. Instead we (glorious freedom loving westerners that we are) instate dictators who are willing to work with us (while secretly working to stab us in the back) as long as they can have the power and personally enrich themselves. Those dictators, when not religious zealots themselves, must control the (more impoverished) populace and turn to the religious zealots who maintain social order through fear and faith. And that brings us to the current clusterfuck in the middle east.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 10:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

          Weird, the IS tells a completely different story though, huh?

          http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/08/02/islamic-state-muslims-command-terror/

          And before you try to pull any nonsense: just because it's Breitbart link, that doesn't make it untrue. I'm simply not gonna link to the original PDF, you can google it if you like.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 1:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

            "And before you try to pull any nonsense: just because it's Breitbart link, that doesn't make it untrue."

            No, but it does make any commentary surrounding it extremely trustworthy, and raises questions as to why you supply such a biased source rather than something more independent. You apparently claim to have a primary source available but refuse to supply it or a neutral source, in favour of a source known to lie regularly about this particular subject (especially since you give so little information - a PDF of what, exactly? Which terms should he be Googling?)

            You apparently understand that some sources are so tarnished by their regular attacks on the truth that people won't accept them as sources, yet also apparently expect people to click on links to understand what you're talking about. Not good.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Daniel Audy (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 8:56am

        Re: Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

        Islam is just as compatible with free speech and thought as Christianity. The reason that we don't have progressive Islamic nations with 'western' style values is that we (progressive westerners) keep overthrowing the middle eastern governments who are supporters of democracy and freedom of speech and religion (see Iran) because they insist that the rights and needs of their citizens should override the desires and profits of foreign countries. Instead we (glorious freedom loving westerners that we are) instate dictators who are willing to work with us (while secretly working to stab us in the back) as long as they can have the power and personally enrich themselves. Those dictators, when not religious zealots themselves, must control the (more impoverished) populace and turn to the religious zealots who maintain social order through fear and faith. And that brings us to the current clusterfuck in the middle east.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 6:46am

      Re: When you make Gollom's long-lost brother look sane...

      He's a real stand up guy - for example, he just outlawed the teaching of evolution. This is the way forward no doubt, no wonder the GOP loves this guy so much.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 2:37pm

    U.S. Moral High Ground?

    I don't see it. When the U.S. commits a fault of morality it backs its actions by changing the definition of what is moral. Then when others point that out, the loud and annoying jump on that person whether in social media or other media sources to disparage their claim. The label Fake News is often used to discredit truth when it comes to holding of the U.S.'s feet to the moral fire it so rightly deserves to feel for timeless raping and pillaging of the world and its own populace. Just ask the indigenous people of the Americas how much you can trust the word of the U.S. government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:56pm

      Re: U.S. Moral High Ground?

      And this excuses Pakistan in your mind?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 4:09pm

      Re: U.S. Moral High Ground?

      What happened to the indigenous people of the Americas was horrendous. But it started long before there was a US Government, which does not excuse in any way their continued actions against indigenous peoples. Remember also the origins of all those who started those atrocities (Spain, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, etc., and not one American among them, at least not until later).

      Like the concept of 'original sin', one of the many things that turned me away from Christianity, or organized religion in any form, no one alive today had or has anything to do with the original outrage.

      It is possible to grow, and learn, and in the process of doing so stake out a better moral position. Whether flaunting that position over the failing of others to achieve such 'superiority' is another question entirely. Don't conflate them.

      A better question would be about how thin skinned those other leaders have to be to demand retribution for some slight, perceived or actual. Unfortunately, a certain current president's crusade against free speech and the media seems quite similar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 6:50am

        Re: Re: U.S. Moral High Ground?

        The appalling treatment doled out to the native americans was nothing new and has not stopped.

        Like the saying goes ... absolute power corrupts absolutely.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Daniel Audy (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 9:00am

        Re: Re: U.S. Moral High Ground?

        The problem is that the current white descendants of those abusers still receive the massive benefits that abuse generated. At the same time we refuse to offer restitution or take any action to improve life for the descendants of those displaced native tribes or slaves that have been systematically discriminated against to deny them opportunity. We may not have committed the original sin but we keep on perpetuating a whole damn lot of sin in order to deny that we are complicit in and benefit from that sin.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Rapnel (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 2:48pm

    And here is where I think that the notion of being ruled over by rulers that rule needs to find a quick path into history. We are not to be ruled, our minds, our words. This is a notion of being governed that will always permit the wedging morality, rights, religion and permissions.

    Thou shalt not rule and if you think you rule then you're a part of a fundamental problem - you are not, in fact, better than anyone.

    Fuck blasphemy. Religious pricks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:14pm

      Re:

      Interestingly Jesus agrees with you...

      But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

      Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.

      Mark 10 42-43

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:00pm

    Genesis of the laws

    The genesis of these laws should tell you all you need to know about their virtue, which is to say they have none.

    I presume that by this you mean the military government of the 1980's. However that would be misleading as the military government was merely pandering to opinion within the populace. The real cause goes back to the "prophet" himself He is on record as saying "Whoever curses a prophet kill him," and there is a list of people who were killed for this on his orders here https://wikiislam.net/wiki/Islam_and_Freedom_of_Speech#Qur.27an

    The fact is that this is not a one off aberration of a military junta - in fact military juntas in islamic countries are often better than the alternatives. This is an endemic problem in the islamic world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:01pm

    There is also the question of whether this sentence will actually be carried out. Here in the US, there are routine headline grabbing news stories about shocking personal injury awards when a jury awards many millions of dollars to a person injured by his own stupidity. But such awards are virtually always greatly reduced (if not reversed) on appeal, and the press rarely covers that.

    Or is Pakistan like Saudi Arabia, which eagerly chops the heads off people for the crime of thinking the wrong thoughts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 22 Jun 2017 @ 3:49pm

      Re:

      There is also the question of whether this sentence will actually be carried out.

      The odds are that it will not be carried out by the state - in fact (AFAIK) despite many such sentences being imposed in recent years the state has yet to execute anyone - BUT in practice this is immaterial because the mob will carry out the sentence themselves if they get the chance. Worse than that any lawyer who defends a blasphemy case is a target, any judge who shows leniency is a target and any politician who suggests repealing the law is a target. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asia_Bibi_blasphemy_case

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 22 Jun 2017 @ 10:54pm

    It has to be said:

    What is the crime of posting on a social media platform compared to the crime of creating one?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Túi Lọc Bụi (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 4:01am

    Social Listening Tool

    You should know about social listening tool, anything you post could bring you to jail :D

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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