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In Pakistan, man jailed for 13 years over ‘Facebook hate speech’

Lahore: In a shocking case, a man in Pakistan has been sent to prison for 13 years by an anti-terrorism court for allegedly posting ‘sectarian hate speech’ on Facebook, a move that drew flak from rights activist.

32-year-old Saqlain Haidar, a Shia Muslim and an hotelier in the city of Chiniot in Pakistani Punjab was also fined Rs 250, 000 for “posting hateful material against companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”, an official of the Counter Terrorism Department said while requesting anonymity, The Express Tribune reported.

Confirming the incident, local counter-terrorism official Abdul Majeed said, “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.”

Bytes for All, a human rights group, expressed its deep concern over Haidar’s case.

“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.”

Ironically, banned terrorist groups like the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi continue to spread hatred on social media without any fear.

It was the first time someone was convicted for posting ‘sectarian material’ on Facebook, but that blasphemy charges were often brought against social media users, Bytes for All added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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