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Man Sentenced to Death For Blasphemous Facebook Comments In Pakistan (gizmodo.com) 469

In what is believed to be "the first time the death penalty had been awarded in a case related to social media," a 30-year-old man in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in comments made on Facebook. Gizmodo reports: The prosecutor told The Times of India that Taimoor Raza was arrested "after playing blasphemous and hate speech material on his phone on a bus stop in Bahawalpur, where a counter-terrorism officer arrested him and confiscated his phone." It was the material on Raza's phone that led to his arrest. The Guardian reports that the accused's brother said Raza "indulged in a sectarian debate on Facebook with a person, who we later come to know, was a [counter-terrorism department] official with the name of Muhammad Usman." Raza's defense attorney told The Guardian the initial charges were limited to "insulting remarks on sectarian grounds," which carries a maximum two-year jail sentence, but that "derogatory acts against prophet Muhammad," which carry a death sentence, were added later. According to The Times of India, Raza will be able to appeal the ruling to the Pakistani High Court and the Supreme Court. Facebook said in a statement: "We are deeply saddened and concerned by the death sentence served in Pakistan for a Facebook post. Facebook uses powerful systems to keep people's information secure and tools to keep their accounts safe, and we do not provide any government with direct access to people's data. We will continue to protect our community from unnecessary or overreaching government intervention."
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Man Sentenced to Death For Blasphemous Facebook Comments In Pakistan

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  • PRISM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:03AM (#54607641) Homepage Journal

    > Facebook uses powerful systems to keep people's information secure and tools to keep their accounts safe, and we do not provide any government with direct access to people's data.

    So was Snowden lying when he said the NSA could look up phone, e-mail and other private communication? Or is Snowden a Limited hangout? Has America forgotten about the spy network?

    • Re:PRISM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:39AM (#54607755)

      You see the language "Facebook does not provide any government with direct access to people's data" This might even be the literal truth, it doesn't preclude 3rd parties having access to that data and making it available to government(s) though, even if those 3rd parties would not exist were it not for government funding.

    • The keyword here is "direct access" and "we". The access can be indirect, per request, or intentionally week enough at the right places in order for the authorities to tap into.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Only a few months ago: (google facebook helps pakistan monitor speech)

      Pakistan asking Facebook and Twitter to point out blasphemers ...
      www.theblaze.com/.../pakistan-asking-facebook-and-twitter-to-point-out-blasphemers-a...

      Mar 29, 2017 - Facebook has signalled its intent to help Pakistan identify thought .... promise to PROSECUTE anyone guilty of "ANTI-MUSLIM" speech.
      https://www.infowars.com/facebook-helps-pakistan-identify-thought-criminals/

      Pakistan asks Facebook to help fight blasphemy - BBC News
      www.bbc.co

    • You could make a statement saying you don't give away TVs to random people. That would probably be true. It would still be true after I break into your house and take your TV while you're not looking.

      No one here is lying.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:05AM (#54607649)

    This has less to do with Facebook and more with what happens when you let imaginary friends rule your life.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:17AM (#54607685)

      This is disingenuous. There's a state where the official religion is Christian, specifically Catholicism. It's called the Holy See, and operates from the Vatican City state. No such rules or laws like that exist within the Holy See. If religion is the problem, how come stuff like this doesn't also occur within the Holy See? Be honest and admit that fundamentalist Islam is the problem here. It's why there are stupid laws like death sentences for blasphemy and evils like ISIL. Before you point to things like the Crusades and the Inquisition, those are in the distant past and are considered regrettable by Christianity in the present day. Fundamentalist Islam is the problem, plain and simple.

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:23AM (#54607711)
        How about Uganda there Christianity is pretty much the state religion (no real separation of state and religion) and they hunt gay people? Oh, it's not Christian enough, right?
        • by Calydor ( 739835 )

          Do they do so in the name of God, or because they find gays icky?

          • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:42AM (#54607771)
            They do it very much in the name of the god. Religion was cited as the motivation for the law prescribing death penalty for gay people. Again, are they not Christian enough or "this doesn't count"?
            • by Calydor ( 739835 )

              Relax, there's no reason to get snappy. I asked because I quite honestly haven't been keeping up with Ugandan politics and religious beliefs.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:06AM (#54607845)
            They do it because American Evangelists encouraged them to do so.
            http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/how-uganda-was-seduced-by-anti-gay-conservative-evangelicals-9193593.html
            Things get hard when "soft power" is used in the wrong way.

            Of cause Saudi Arabian Muslim evangelists are doing far worse and probably inspired the problem in the article.
      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:39AM (#54607761)

        Congratulations, you found the one religiously run state that doesn't have any need for such laws. Well, maybe because that particular state is very special in a lot of aspects. One of them probably being that to get in, you first and foremost have to have drunk the cool-aid and totally love it, or you just would not be there. It's not like you can be born in the Holy See (yup. Only country in existence with 100% (former) foreigners making up the population). You pretty much HAVE TO be all-in on the whole religious spiel already to even have a chance to become a citizen.

        I hope it's easy to see how you can get away with not having any laws like this and still have a 100% devotee population. You don't have to enforce anything there. People ARE already completely sold to the cult.

        • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @10:11AM (#54609103)

          Congratulations! You found the one place that is essentially a sub city - an area of 0.17 sq miles (Rome, by contrast, is almost 500 sq miles). Being there is like being in a church - if the entire place ain't one already. Also, if one committed blasphemy there - like stated support for abortion or birth control, would they be expelled from there, much less jailed or even much lesser executed?

          Point is that there are countries that have official religions e.g. in England, it's the Church of England, in Scotland, it's the Church of Scotland. Even though England is not a secular state, complete freedom of religion does exist - some 25% are no religion i.e. either atheist or agnostic. That's pretty much there the world over, and one can't hold up Uganda as the model of what it is to be Christian. One can, however, hold up places like Saudi Arabia or Iraq or Egypt as models of what it is to be Islamic, since a lot of Islam's ideology developed there, as well as in Baghdad. And most people know that anyone committing blasphemy in any Muslim country (except maybe the ex Soviet stans) would either be imprisoned or executed, or targeted for vigilante murder for insulting Islam. So let's not draw a moral equivalence here.

          In the case of Pakistan, like I said above, the only reason that country exists as an independent political entity is Islam: otherwise, it was no different from India. The reason they have a 100% fanatical population is that they know that their country wouldn't exist w/o Islam. This doesn't mean that if they suddenly became secular, India would annex them (most Indians I know would be against such a re-unification b'cos it would drag down their economy, and blow up the % of Muslims in the country); however, they do what they can to emphasize their differences from India, including creating commonalities w/ Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and the Arab countries.

      • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @05:53AM (#54608097)

        It is a question of numbers, and development, and themes.

        Buddhism, maybe 30% is fundamentalist, and amongst those, what they believe in unquestioningly is usually tame.
        Christianity, maybe 70% is fundamentalist, and amongst those, what they believe in is usually less tame, with some outright human rights problems.
        Islam, maybe 80% is fundamentalist, and of those, maybe 2% believe in violent conquest, and 5% believe in political conquest, and 50% have human rights issues, and the rest are just quaint victorian style proper living.

        So "Islam" does get a lot of attention.

        As for "all religions are the same", that is a fine and rational view, except that, there are maybe only 10% in all the religions, who subscribe to that view point -- so they are certainly not fundamentalist -- they believe and actually value a global peaceful community, accepting others, accepting that there are many paths to "god". So there, people from all religions see that all the prophets and saints and sages of all the religions are all pointing to a similar truth.

        But because only 10% across the board see it that way, they don't have much influence, and meanwhile, the rest see this "all paths" idea as either misguided or wrong or blasphemous or whatever, depending on their degree of fundamentalism.

        Buddhism is an interesting one because their original precepts didn't block a process of continual change across the ages. Christianity just sort of did itself in with trying to maintain empire and ended up in religious wars across Europe. Islam is supposed to be, believed to be, version 3 (Christianity was v2 and Judaism was v1) and is still largely in the "let's keep it exactly as it is" mentality.

        Frankly, the West went down the monotheistic route, and if your worldview Is based on there being only one true god, then that excludes everyone else and always puts others into the sinners and heathens bucket, and who wants to be ruled by heathens?

        The East kept with polytheistic and non-theistic and so their religions are more easy to change. Who cares what god you believe in if "god" is merely just another perceptual dream ornament within your vast field of being and presence? Along with the cat?

        So the differences in the content of the religions does matter, as well as, what percentage of people are prone to literalist readings, and what proportion are rationally developed and know they are always "interpreting" whatever they read.

        • by dehachel12 ( 4766411 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @07:38AM (#54608397)
          -30% 70% 80% 10% ..
          that's a lot of ass pulling there.
        • All religions are not identical, but they all have some things in common, like being bullshit. Well, to be fair, only around 3,000 active religions are necessarily bullshit. I suppose one of them could be right. But they can't all be right about everything, and odds are sharply against any of them being right about everything.

          By definition, no more than one religion can be correct. So at best, virtually all religions are wrong.

          • By definition, no more than one religion can be correct.

            That's an incorrect definition. In the Far East it's common for someone to follow one, two or more religions at once, even when those have conflicting views about specific issues. It's usually understood over there that those conflicts are either because those differences are different aspects of something more fundamental, or because they apply to different people, or because they're metaphorical etc.

            For example, in Japan one can be one or more of these: Shintoist, Buddhist, Confucian and/or Christian. The

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        maybe, just maybe, the problem isn't a particular religion (or religion in general). maybe the problem is human nature. take away religion, we'll find some other idea to exploit for power and control.

    • by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:18AM (#54607691)

      This has less to do with Facebook and more with what happens when you let imaginary friends rule your life.

      Huh? Facebook is what happens when you let imaginary friends rule your life.

    • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
      Canada and Denmark only recently abolished their blasphemy laws. https://www.catholicregister.o... [catholicregister.org]
    • Is it religion or education? How much intolerance do you still see in well educated areas (US is well educated on average but some areas more than others), while you still have religious people among the educated (even if less religious people among the educated)?

    • Yes of course - religions are the problem: except yours.

      Never heard that one before.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Honestly I'm not sure why this would shock or surprise anyone. We should know by now that the majority of the Middle Eastern countries are Theocracies. Those Theocracies are based on Islam. Islam when followed in a literal, fundamentalist way condones this type of behavior. For example, Apostasy. If you leave the faith, you should be executed. This is described in both the Quran and the Hadith. Any society based on this sort of thing is going to be barbaric at best from a human rights perspective.

      Why

      • Let's be honest here, any religion, if founded today as a club, would be under surveillance by NSA, FBI and various other TLAs for their charter alone, if they can be founded altogether considering how they treat minorities in general and women in particular.

        And you wouldn't invite their leaders to some discussion about ethics or morals. You'd tell those fuckers to go away, far away preferably, because their insane ideologies have no place in a civilized society.

    • This has less to do with Facebook and more with what happens when you let imaginary friends rule your life.

      In this case, the imaginary friends are the entire basis for that country existing in the first place (before that, it was a part of India). So in their mind, if they were to allow blasphemy of Islam, they'd lose their raison-de-etre for existing in the first place.

      It also explains why they are the #1 sponsor of Jihad (not Iran or Saudi Arabia or Qatar) and why the US would do well to treat them at par w/ ISIS or al Qaeda, and add them to the travel ban list

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @03:10AM (#54607669)

    At what point do we drop the political correctness and accept that Islam in the present day is more violent than other religions? I don't care about the past of Christianity, Judaism, and other religions. Violence committed in the name of the Gods of those religions is generally considered blasphemy. Christians might tell you that you're going to hell and say offensive things to you, but they're thankfully not killing people like the Muslims are.

    When do we decide that the Islamic religion of the present day is too violent and insist that it reform or be banned? If religion were generally the problem, we would see Christians committing violent acts the way Muslims are. The fact is, they're not. There is a Christian state, specifically a Catholic one. It's called the Holy See. They don't have a military outside of the Swiss guards, and the Holy See is pretty pacifist in its nature. Contrast that with fundamentalist Islam and you'll see a huge difference. The "religion of peace" isn't peaceful at all. In fact, it's incredibly violent compared to other contemporary religions.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      why you just not say that "followers of islam use it for personal power more often".. or something along those lines.

      thats what it really is. btw buddhists can be violent about other religions too when it suits their group interests.

      the state religious police is a power faction that has power so it tries to keep the power and in order for it to matter it has to keep using said power. now.. why the fuck would you do business with countries that do shit like that? you shouldn't. and not with other countries

    • by clickety6 ( 141178 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:28AM (#54607903)
      Christians might tell you that you're going to hell and say offensive things to you, but they're thankfully not killing people like the Muslims are.

      "One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did.""
      https://www.theguardian.com/wo... [theguardian.com]
      "Tony Blair viewed his decision to go to war in Iraq and Kosovo as part of a "Christian battle", according to one of his closest political allies."
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new... [telegraph.co.uk]
      • Even if we are inclined to take the word of the representative of a government distinguished for its dishonest and corruption, that quote doesn't establish that Bush saw it as a war against people who followed the wrong religion. It strongly suggests a quote different motivation, in fact.

    • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

      From what I've noticed Muslims kill mostly Muslims. What do you want from society now? To also ban the victims of Islamic terrorism from practising their religion in peace? Life is not so simple. You can't just Holocaust every perceived social ill away.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jandersen ( 462034 )

      When do we decide that the Islamic religion of the present day is too violent and insist that it reform or be banned?

      You mean, let's be "tough on terror" by overreacting and committing unspeakable acts of gross indecency against millions of innocent people, because they happen to have grown up in a culture that you don't understand and don't want to understand? I don't think so. There are variants of Islam that subscribe to a darkened worldview, but there are Christians, even in this day and age, who are no less deluded and aggressive; what you suggest is to fall into the same, demented thinking as them, and initiate a re

    • At what point do we drop the political correctness and accept that Islam in the present day is more violent than other religions?

      At what point do you realize this has to do with opportunity? The world has already rejected Christianity's attempt to rule the world. Now we have to go through it all over again with Islam. Meanwhile it's just that asshole YHWH again. Same shit, different costumes.

    • At what point do we drop the political correctness and accept that Islam in the present day is more violent than other religions?

      When Christians stop classifying their hate crimes as isolated people with "mental illness".

      Well, ... actually praying to an imaginary skydaddy probably is a mental illness now that I think about it. #blewmyownmind.

  • "Islam is evil!" No, shitty third world governments are evil. They find all sorts of reasons to oppress people, Christian, Muslim, or whatever,

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      This is hilarious. First off, let's throw away the logical fallacy that assumes all Muslim governments are 3rd world, or, that non-3rd-World Muslim governments have great human rights records. (::cough::Saudi Arabia::cough::)

      You're the same people who scream about separation of church and state, and then fail to notice when Muslim controlled governments are extremely oppressive.

      http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-con... [unzcloud.com]

      Oh look at that, only 1.1 billion (that's "billion" with a 'b') Muslims believe that Sharia Law sh

      • by skam240 ( 789197 )

        "Why are 99% of all terror attacks committed by Muslims?"

        That's just a truly obvious lie. The only way that's true is if you want to call every act of violence committed by a Muslim "terrorism" and every act of violence committed by a Christian "regular crime". Basically, you're advocating for bigotry with that claim.

        A quarter of the world's population is Muslim. If that made them inherently violent we'd be living in the most violent period of world history rather than the most peaceful.

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      You fail to understand that Islam is more than a religion, it's a political movement.

  • Isn't that where they charged a toddler with murder? Classy place. [theguardian.com] Another example of how religion just makes everything better.

    Pakistan tourism advice; don't go, and tell everyone you know not to go (they already know).

  • good example... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperDre ( 982372 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:20AM (#54607885) Homepage

    This is a good example of why religion should be abolished throughout the world, ANY religion.. Religion has always been about control of the people, nothing more, nothing less. No law should EVER be based on religious stuff, and certainly religion should never be a reason why should be able to discriminate without problems, but if you say the same thing outside religion your bound to get in trouble.. Most wars are in the name of some religion, but all are about power and control..

    • Re:good example... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by radja ( 58949 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:45AM (#54607947) Homepage

      about the only thing worse than religions is outlawing religions.

      • by ud0 ( 4978555 )

        It's a hard case to make that outlawing religious practice would be worse than allowing some of the more egregious religions out there free rain, from a humanitarian perspective. Anyway, outlawing religions is not even required to stop these kinds of atrocities, a secular state and a secular society would be enough.

        It's difficult to judge for me whether the secular basis of our Western society is eroding or not, but at times it certainly seems like it. If that perception is correct, outlawing religious infl

    • Congratulations, now you're trying to control everyone. What penalty would you propose for failure to become an atheist?

    • No law should EVER be based on religious stuff, and certainly religion should never be a reason why should be able to discriminate without problems, but if you say the same thing outside religion your bound to get in trouble..

      Fully agreed, legally or in general, no one should be discriminated against for anything they chose to do in private (an many case in public) that does not have any impact on other people's lives. Specifically anything that does not harm anyone else but in general to me, so much of what people do in private is never even noticed by anyone else, so should not matter. This includes religious choices, no one should be discriminated against for their choice in what to believe in, or not believe in, as well as

    • by dabadab ( 126782 )

      Outlawing religion does not really help. Look at the Soviets: they basically did that and they still did the whole "opression in the name of ideology" thing.

  • fuck islam (Score:4, Informative)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @06:24AM (#54608167)
    that religion should be made illegal in every nation possible, because everywhere that islam dominates they quickly become an oppressive theocratic tyranny.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yet Pakistan is a classic example of a majority muslim country, and this is what happens. If you transferred all the Pakistanis in the world to the United States, do you think their beliefs and personalities would magically change just because they were standing on a different piece of land? Probably...

    It is up to people in the free (i.e. non-muslim) world to continually expose and fight against the evil that is Islam, before the entire planet is living under this insane, tyrannous system.

  • by vittal ( 52825 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @06:52AM (#54608259) Homepage

    *THIS* should be raised whenever some politician goes "Government must have access to Facebook/WhatsApp/etc. for security"!

    In the UK, the current government has been hysterically running around shouting that Facebook is allowing all sorts of nasty illegal content to be disseminated. While that's certainly true, it bears remembering that one country's "illegal" is another country's "cherished freedom".

    If the UK government has the right to access it's citizen's Facebook pages for "illegal" content, then you can guarantee Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Russia and all sorts of other ghastly states will demand the same right. And then, through the law of unintended consequences, a lot of people (who the liberal west would consider friends), will either wind up behind bars or six feet under.

    If we are willing to give our governments access to our data to "keep us safe", we have to accept that governments we may not like will use the same powers to do harm to their own citizens. This is the moral choice that's not raised by the screaming "think of the children" brigade.

  • Those secret Star Chamber campus tribunals that try people for maleness and paleness will lobby to get Title IX updated to include the death penalty.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @11:58AM (#54610085) Journal

    Killing someone because he said something about {insert name of 'diety' here} that other people didn't like

    Seriously, people: What the actual FUCK does it say about Humans that in 2017 something like this can actually happen!?

    This is not the act of a truly intelligent, sentient, civilized race of beings, it is the act of a race of uppity animals -- and make no mistake, I am including the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE in this, not just Pakistan!

    Mad? FUCK YES I'm MAD when I read this. Bullshit like this is why I HATE ALL RELIGION, think it's a CANCER on humanity in general, and I wish SO MUCH that we'd somehow evolve past the point of needing 'gods' and 'religion' and all the stupid bullshit that goes with all that.

    Seriously, people: A MAN IS GOING TO ***LOSE HIS LIFE*** FOR SOMETHING HE ***SAID*** -- NOT ***DID***, BUT JUST FOR ***WORDS***. What does that say about us, AS A SPECIES!?

    I am ASHAMED to admit being part of the species Homo Sapiens when I see shit like this. ASHAMED!

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