Pakistan court sentences woman to death for committing blasphemy
A Pakistan court has sentenced to death a woman school principal for committing blasphemy. The district and sessions court on Monday handed down the death sentence to Salma Tanvir, principal of a private school in Nishtar Colony, and imposed a fine of PKR 5,000 ($29) on her. Tanvir committed blasphemy by denying that Prophet Muhammad was not the last prophet of Islam.
She claimed herself to be the Prophet of Islam
The blasphemy committed was observed by additional district and sessions Judge Mansoor Ahmad. Lahore police, in 2013, had registered a blasphemy case against Tanvir on the complaint of a local cleric. She was accused of denying the finality of Prophet Muhammad and claimed herself to be the Prophet of Islam.
Tanvir's counsel argued that her client was of 'unsound mind'
Tanvir's counsel Muhammad Ramzan argued that her client was an "unsound-minded person" and the court should have taken the fact into account. However, a report by a medical board of the Punjab Institute of Mental Health submitted to the court by the prosecution said, "The suspect was fit to stand trial as she was not mentally deranged."
Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws are considered extremely severe
Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws and their prescribed punishments are considered extremely severe. At least 1,472 people have been charged under the blasphemy law in Pakistan since 1987. People accused of blasphemy are usually deprived of the right to a counsel of their choice as most lawyers refuse to take up such cases considering the sensitivity of such cases.
Blasphemy laws were amended by former dictator General Zia-ul-Haq
The blasphemy laws are colonial-era legislation but they were amended by former dictator General Zia-ul Haq which increased the severity of prescribed punishments.