An actress has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. She hasn’t murdered anyone. She’s not guilty of torture, or rape, or grevious bodily harm.
Instead, the actress — Veena Malik, a Pakistani Bollywood film actress, model and TV presenter — been sentenced because for “malicious acts of blasphemy” for appearing in televised live wedding scene.
The same sentence was imposed on her husband Asad Bashir Khan Khattak, who also featured in the scene, and to the owner of the media group that broadcast the TV show, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
The controversial scene featured a religious song about the wedding of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter playing in the background — which was considered blasphemy under Pakistan’s laws, news.com.au reports.
Announcing the verdict on Tuesday, judge Raja Shahbaz ordered the police make arrests in case of disobedience.
The court order, as reported by The Guardian, reads: “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.”
Malik, who recently had a baby boy named Abram, called the sentence “ridiculous” in an interview with Gulf News.
“I am innocent. I am sure I haven’t done anything wrong. I feel emotionally broken,” she said in an interview with a tabloid, Gulf News reports.
“Twenty-six years! Come on. Twenty-six years is a lifetime,” she said.
“I have a little baby and he has to be breast-fed. For me, to hear such a harsh verdict against my husband and me, at a time when I just want live a quiet life and enjoy motherhood, is too hard to digest,” she added in an interview reported by Rediff.com.
Malik — who lives in Dubai — told Gulf news she planned to return to Pakistan in the next fortnight to challenge the court order.
“I have faith in higher courts in Pakistan,” she told Gulf News.
Fortunately, the court order is unlikely to be implemented because the region where the it was imposed, Gilgit-Baltistan, is not considered a full-fledged province by Pakistan.
As news.com.au reports, verdicts by its courts therefore don’t apply to the rest of the country.
The video that sparked all the controversy: