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Pakistan court sentences man to death for blasphemy

[JURIST] A Pakistan court on Tuesday sentenced to death a man convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in violation of the nation's blasphemy laws. Zulfiqar Ali was arrested in 2008 for writing blasphemous statements [DAWN.com report] against Islam on walls. Ali's lawyer argued that his client was mentally insane, emphasizing that Ali had been brought to the proceedings from the psychiatric ward of the jail. The judge, however found him to be mentally competent, and responsible for writing "abusive" statements and uttering derogatory remarks against Islam. Ali will spend one year in jail before his hanging unless he pays a fine of one million rupees.

There have been many incidents involving Pakistan's highly contentious blasphemy laws in recent years. In May police in the province of Punjab filed charges of blasphemy [JURIST report] against 68 lawyers for protesting police actions. In March a Pakistani judge sentenced a Christian man to death [JURIST report] for blasphemy. In January a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to death [JURIST report] for being found to have written letters claiming to be a prophet. In August of last year a Pakistani court dismissed charges [JURIST report] against a cleric who was arrested for allegedly framing a Christian girl accused of blasphemy. In April of last year the Lahore High Court in Pakistan acquitted a Christian man [JURIST report] sentenced to death for blasphemy. In November 2012 a Pakistani court ordered police to drop blasphemy charges [JURIST report] against a 14-year-old Christian girl, which sparked international concern over the use of the country's controversial law.

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