A Pakistani court handed a death sentence to a Muslim woman on Tuesday, for sacrilegious writings deemed derogatory to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, under the country’s blasphemy laws.
“It is proved beyond reasonable doubt that accused Salma Tanveer wrote and distributed the writings which are derogatory in respect of holy prophet Muhammad,” reads the verdict issued by a district court in the eastern city of Lahore.
A case was registered against the woman in 2013 on the complaint of a local prayer leader for allegedly claiming herself a prophet.
The woman was of “unsound mind at the time the incident occurred” and that the pamphlets were not written by her, defence lawyer Mian Muhammad Ramzan said.
The woman has the right to file an appeal against the decision before the Lahore High Court.
Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in Pakistan. Those accused can become the targets of Muslim vigilante groups. In some cases, they have been gunned down, burned alive or bludgeoned to death.
Last year, a Pakistani-American man who belonged to the Ahmadiyya faith was shot and killed inside a courtroom during his trial under Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
Hardline Islamists staged massive protests against the 2018 acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was given a death sentence in 2010 on allegations of blasphemy.
Bibi’s case attracted global attention and led to the killing in 2011 of the then-Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who sought to reform blasphemy laws.