In the west, claiming to see God will probably earn you a few strange looks and not much else. But in Pakistan, claims of a deity sighting could land you in prison -- or worse.
Two Pakistani men have been handed death sentences after claiming to see God and encouraging others to join them in “a union with God” alongside local religious leader Chaman Sarkar.
The two men are 34 year old Riaz Ahmed and 38 year old Ijaz Ahmed. After saying they saw God, local man Qazi Muhammad Ahmed became offended. He reported the men to Pakistani law enforcement, and the two were brought before Additional Sessions Judge Chaudry Zafar Iqbal.
Iqbal not only fined the men 100,000 rupees (about $10,000), but he handed them death sentences as well.
The lawyer representing the two men is Malik Ghulam Qasim. Qasim believes the blasphemy law the men were sentenced under is in dire need of adjustment. Qasim sees it as a dangerous law that could easily be used to victimize innocent people.
“I tried my best to defend them,” Qasim said. “We seriously need to reconsider the blasphemy law and its enforcement.”
Among countries with a predominantly Muslim population, Pakistan has the strictest blasphemy laws. According to Pakistan’s constitution, the purpose of these laws is foster the Islamic way of life and protect Islamic authority.