Pak­istani jailed for Face­book ‘hate speech’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

LA­HORE: A Pak­istani anti-ter­ror­ism court has jailed a Shi­ite Mus­lim for 13 years af­ter he posted what it deemed sec­tar­ian hate speech on Face­book, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, with rights activists con­demn­ing the rul­ing as “ex­tremely con­cern­ing”. Saqlain Haidar, 32, who ran a small ho­tel in Chin­iot dis­trict south of Is­lam­abad, was also fined 250,000 ru­pees ($2,300) for “post­ing hate­ful ma­te­rial against com­pan­ions of the Prophet of Is­lam on Face­book”, an of­fi­cial of the Counter Ter­ror­ism Depart­ment told AFP, re­quest­ing anonymity.

Ab­dul Ma­jeed, a se­nior lo­cal counter-ter­ror­ism of­fi­cial, con­firmed the in­ci­dent. “The con­vict was ar­rested on Oc­to­ber 27 af­ter lo­cals com­plained about him and he was charged for spread­ing sec­tar­ian ha­tred un­der var­i­ous clauses of the anti-ter­ror­ism act,” he told AFP. Ma­jeed said the ac­cused was re­leased on bail a day later, then ar­rested and im­pris­oned on Novem­ber 21 af­ter the court con­victed him. Pak­istan, a mainly Sunni Mus­lim na­tion, had pre­vi­ously tol­er­ated many sec­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions. But it has taken ac­tion this year as part of a “Na­tional Ac­tion Plan” to counter ter­ror­ism af­ter a Tale­ban at­tack killed more than 150 peo­ple-mostly chil­dren-at an army-run school in Pe­shawar. In May an imam in the Kasur dis­trict of Pun­jab was jailed for five years for in­cit­ing hate against a ri­val mi­nor­ity Shi­ite sect. In Oc­to­ber a for­mer leader of a banned sec­tar­ian party was im­pris­oned for six months for hate speech.

Bytes for All, a hu­man rights group, said it had not been able to ver­ify the de­tails of Haidar’s case, but added: “We are ex­tremely con­cerned that an anti-ter­ror­ism court has been used to hear a case ap­par­ently re­lated to on­line speech rather than to any vi­o­lent ac­tiv­i­ties.” A spokesman pointed out that banned mil­i­tant groups in­clud­ing the Pak­istani Tale­ban and sec­tar­ian groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have a sig­nif­i­cant so­cial me­dia pres­ence in Pak­istan and “ap­pear to be op­er­at­ing freely un­der the eyes of au­thor­i­ties”.

The Pak­istan Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Author­ity has blocked hun­dreds of ji­hadist and sec­tar­ian web­sites and so­cial me­dia ac­counts in the past but they of­ten pop up anew un­der dif­fer­ent names.

Bytes for All said Haidar’s case was the first it knew of in which some­one was con­victed for post­ing sec­tar­ian ma­te­rial on Face­book, but that blas­phemy charges were of­ten brought against so­cial me­dia users. —AFP

KATHMANDU: Nepalese activists and hos­pi­tal pa­tients rally against the block on hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­plies at the Nepal-In­dia border, in Kathmandu yes­ter­day. Nepal is heav­ily de­pen­dent on In­dia for fuel and other sup­plies, but lit­tle cargo has crossed the border from In­dia since protests against the con­sti­tu­tion broke out in late Septem­ber. — AFP

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