Human Rights Voices

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Pakistan, November 26, 2014

Glamorous actress is handed 26-year jail sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan for appearing in mock TV wedding where a religious song was played in background

Original source

Daily Mail

A Pakistani actress has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for blasphemy after appearing in a mock TV wedding.

Veena Malik took part in the staged marriage on a morning show while musicians sang a devotional song about the wedding of the Prophet Muhammad's daughter.

Her husband, Asad Bashir Khan, and the chief of the country's biggest media group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, were also handed 26-year jail terms.

Mrs Malik, who has recently given birth to a baby boy, spoke of her anger and disbelief after the verdict was handed down by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court.

Judges have ordered the police to execute the court order in the city of Gilgit, which is controlled by Pakistan, but part of the Kashmir region which India also claims.

'The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency,' the order said.

However, the order is unlikely to be implemented because the Gilgit-Baltistan region is not considered a full-fledged province by Pakistan and verdicts by its courts do not apply to the rest of the country.

Malik returned to Dubai two weeks ago from the U.S, but intends to return to Pakistan next month to fight her case.

She said: 'I have always been a person who faced troubles by looking it in the eye. 'I have faced highs and lows in my life. But I am sure I haven't done anything wrong.' The host of the controversial show, which aired in May, has also been punished.

The four people convicted were also ordered to pay a fine of 1.3million rupees (£8,000), sell their properties and surrender their passports, according to a copy of the court order.

The broadcast by Geo TV set off a storm of controversy on social media, though similar routines by other channels in the past have largely gone unnoticed.

Many observers at the time suspected Pakistan's military establishment of engineering the blasphemy campaign against Geo TV.

The channel was then caught up in a struggle with the all-powerful military.

The blasphemy case was registered on May 26 in a police station in Gilgit by a hardline sunni cleric Himayatullah Khan, deputy chief of the anti-shia organisation Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba.

No lawyer appeared on behalf of any of the accused. However the court had arranged a state lawyer to defend them.