Calls for an atheist blogger in Pakistan to be hanged for the “crime” of blasphemy are trending on social media.
Ayaz Nizami, an outspoken critic of the majority Muslim country, was arrested on 24th March amid a crackdown on religious freedom.
He and two others were charged with blasphemy in a counter-terrorism court in Islamabad, and now face the death penalty, according to Radio Liberty.
Western liberals on Twitter were quick to oppose the barbaric punishment – but their calls were opposed by a tide of death penalty advocates, promoting the hashtag #HangAyazNizami.
#HangAyazNizami and Rana Nauman too …who is equally involved in this crime
— Nida Ahmed (@nidaa214) March 25, 2017
Strong proofs are available against Ayaz Nizami. Come on Govt now #HangAyazNizami without any if n but. Our Country our Law, Our Punishment
— Muzammil Qureshi (@MuzammilQuresh2) March 26, 2017
Blasphemey is not freedom of speech.
— Gauhar Ali (@RealGauharAli) March 25, 2017
Ayaz Nizami is a pseudonym for the writer, who is also the vice president of Atheist & Agnostic Alliance of Pakistan (AAAP).
Prominent Pakistani atheists often hide their true identities to protect themselves from vigilante groups.
(No images were immediately available of Nizami. Pictured above is a mass protest of Pakistani activists marching in favor of harsher action against blasphemers).
In Bangladesh, which has similar anti-blasphemy laws, Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy was hacked to death by machete-wielding thugs in 2015 for condemning Islam.
Ayaz Nizami is an ex-Muslim and ex-religious scholar… Studying Islam deeply and closely opened his eyes and he realized Islam and other Abrahamic faiths are nothing divine but a mere creation of human brain and are a bi-product of culture and civilizations in the world – especially the Middle East.
After realizing the reality of faith, he took it upon himself to educate and enlighten his fellow countrymen and share his findings with them. His mission is just to spread the truth and knowledge without seeking a reward or having any hidden agenda.
Two other bloggers were arrested alongside Nizami. Officials said they are probing their online activity and had seized their laptops.
Requests for Twitter to remove the bloodthirsty posts appears to have gone unheeded.