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Pakistani court sentenced to death the principal of a female school for blasphemy

A Pakistani court in Lahore has sentenced a female school principal to death for blasphemy.

The district and sessions court on Monday sentenced Salma Tanveer, the principal of a private school in Nishtar Colony, to death and fined her PKR 5,000 ($29).

Additional District and Sessions Judge Mansoor Ahmed said in the judgment that Tanveer committed blasphemy while denying that Prophet Muhammad was not the last prophet of Islam.

The Lahore Police had registered a case of blasphemy against Tanveer in 2013 on the complaint of a local cleric. He was accused of denying the finality of the Prophet Muhammad and claimed himself to be the Prophet of Islam.

Tanveer’s lawyer Muhammad Ramzan argued that his client was a “perverted person” and the court should have taken this fact into account.

However, a report submitted to the court by the prosecution by the Medical Board of the Punjab Institute of Mental Health said, “the suspect was fit to face trial as she was not mentally challenged.”

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws and their prescribed punishment are considered extremely severe. At least 1,472 people have been charged with blasphemy laws in Pakistan since 1987.

 

People accused of blasphemy are usually deprived of the right to have a lawyer of their choice as most lawyers refuse to take up such sensitive cases.

Blasphemy laws are colonial-era laws but were amended by former dictator General Ziaul Haq to increase the severity of the punishment prescribed.

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