Pakistan: Veena Malik gets 26 years in jail for blasphemy


The 26-year prison term to four persons including the owner of Pakistan’s biggest media group and controversial actor Veena Malik under the “deeply flawed” blasphemy laws will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, a leading rights group has said.

“This sentence will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Pakistan. It is appalling that someone should be sent to prison for decades over a TV programme,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Griffiths said the “judgment shows how Pakistan’s deeply flawed blasphemy laws have become another tool to silence media.”

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of Geo and Jang group, was handed down the prison term in absentia for allowing the broadcast of a “blasphemous programme” by Geo TV in May.

Actor Veena Malik and her husband Asad Bashir were sentenced for participating in the programme in which a religious song was played while they re-enacted their wedding. TV host Shaista Wahidi was also sentenced for 26 years.

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