Police patrol outside the central jail, as the court delivered the verdict on a blasphemy case, in Multan on Saturday. AFP
A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced a university professor to death for blasphemy under a law that critics say is often used to target minorities and liberal activists.
Junaid Hafeez, 33, was arrested in March 2013 for allegedly posting derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on social media.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in conservative Muslim-majority Pakistan, where laws against it carry a potential death sentence. Even unproven allegations have led to mob lynchings and vigilante murders.
Hafeez's sentence was announced in central city of Multan, where he was a university professor at the time of his arrest, and his counsel Asad Jamal slammed the decision as "most unfortunate".
"We will appeal against this verdict," Jamal told the media.
"Junaid Hafeez's death sentence is a gross miscarriage of justice and the verdict... is extremely disappointing and surprising," Amnesty International's Rabia Mehmood said.
"The government must immediately release him and drop all charges against him," she added. "The authorities must also guarantee his safety and that of his family and legal representatives."
An international detergent brand has come under fire for an advertisement questioning gender stereotypes in the conservative patriarchal country, with critics accusing the company of blasphemy.
Anwar was arrested in 1993, after police accused him of participating in an attack that killed a villager. He was sentenced to death in 1998. He was 17 years old at the time of the attack, said the lawyer, Zainab Mahboob, expressing hope that Anwar will be released soon.
The filing of the complaint, the constitution of the court, the selection of the prosecution team are illegal, declared to be illegal... And at the end of the day the full judgment has been set aside, says prosecutor.
The court directs law enforcers to apprehend Musharraf to ensure the death sentence is carried out, but if found dead beforehand, "his corpse (should) be dragged to D-Chowk, Islamabad and be hanged for three days.
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In his weekly tweet with the hashtag “#FlashesofLeadership,” the Dubai Ruler said, “If the needy comes to you, help him... And if the oppressed comes to you, support him... And if the owner of the idea comes to you, support him also… And if the world comes to you, listen to the world...”