Aneeqa Ateeq

Name: Aneeqa Ateeq

Country/Area of Origin: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Background: Ateeq is a 26-year-old Muslim woman from Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Reason for Arrest:

In May 2020, Rawalpindi authorities arrested Aneqa Ateeq on charges of committing blasphemy by sharing allegedly insulting images and remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and one of his wives as her Facebook and WhatsApp status. It is reported that the individual who accused Ateeq, Hasnat Farooq, had previously met the defendant on a mobile gaming app PUBG, where he repeatedly tried to engage with her. Ateeq states that Farooq had provoked her to engage in a religious debate with him after she refused his attempts to become “friendly”; she believes Farooq devised a plan to lure her to say something he could claim was blasphemous and get her arrested, as an act of revenge for her unwillingness to correspond with him.

Ateeq’s formal charge sheet states that she had allegedly posted caricatures of the Prophet and denigrated “holy personages” on her public WhatsApp and Facebook pages, and therefore she “deliberately and intentionally defiles sacred righteous personalities and insulted the religious beliefs of Muslims”; ironically, however, Ateeq herself identifies as a Muslim.

Latest Updates:

  • In January 2022, Rawalpindi court Judge Adnan Mushtaq officially convicted Ateeq of blasphemy and sentenced her to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 2,50,000 Pakistani rupees, and death by hanging under Penal Code Section 295-C.
    • Attorney Saif-ul Malook reported that Ateeq was denied legal counsel throughout her court trials, and that “the defense lawyer failed to defend her during the entire trial period and even admitted her crime in the court proceedings, which led to Ateeq’s death sentence”. It is possible that Malook is referring to lawyer Syeda Rashida Zainab who, in response to the inhumane verdict, claimed “I can’t comment on the judgement as the issue is very sensitive”. Many Pakistani judges and lawyers are less likely to rule in favor of or represent individuals accused of blasphemy as they may soon become targets themselves for the radical Muslim community.