Kasur District Court sentenced Abdul Hameed, 45, to death for blasphemy. In the charges filed against him by Imam Ghulam Mustafa Zia, Mr Hameed is said to have built a replica of the Kaaba (Islam’s earliest place of worship containing the ‘Black Stone’) in his courtyard and proclaimed himself prophet.
Judges found him guilty and gave him the maximum sentence in accordance with Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code, the infamous “blasphemy law,” which severely punishes anyone who desecrates Islam, its prophet and holy scriptures.
According to some eyewitnesses who testified at the trial, Hameed built the Kaaba replica and invited local Muslims to come on pilgrimage since the “original stone” was in his courtyard.
Mr Hameed’s defence attorney, Pervez Aslam Chaudhry, announced that he will appeal the sentence. In his view, the trial was flawed because of a procedural error in the investigation phase. Under the law, blasphemy cases must be investigated by an official no lower than the rank of a superintendent of Police. In Mr Hameed’s case the inquiry was handled by sub-inspector who investigated the case in just two days.
The blasphemy law was passed in 1986. Since its introduction more than 5,000 people have been charged. In 560 cases the accused was found guilty with sentences ranging from five years to hanging. Another 30 are currently pending.
For many human rights activists, the law is used too often by people who want to settle scores. The law also fails to take into account cases where the accused is mentally ill.