On Monday, September 27, 2021, a session court in Lahore, Pakistan, found a school principal guilty of blasphemy charges. Salma Tanveer was charged with blasphemy in 2013 for claiming that she is the last Prophet of Allah. Judge Mansoor Qureshi announced Monday afternoon that they ordered the death penalty for Tanveer.
Salma Tanveer, a principal from a private school in the Nishtar Colony in Lahore, Pakistan, distributed pamphlets in September 2013. The pamphlets contained her claims that she was the Rehmatul Alamin which means “mercy for all the worlds.” She also claimed that she was the last Prophet of Allah and not Muhammad.
Court records showed that a Khateeb (a prayer leader) from Bahadurabad, Karachi, Pakistan, a neighboring city of Lahore, made the complaint. Khateeb, Qari Iftikhar Ahmad Raza, claimed that Tanveer “denied the finality of Prophet Muhammad.”
The police arrested Tanveer and charged her with violating Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 295C is a controversial blasphemy law that punishes anyone who defiles the name of the Prophet Muhammad with the death penalty or life imprisonment, along with a very hefty fine. Pakistan’s penal code is an outdated colonial-era law; it goes back to the British occupation of the Indian Subcontinent. It contains dangerously broad definitions making it prone to inaccurate interpretations.
Muhammad Ramzan, Tanveer’s lawyer, argued that his client is an “unsound-minded person.” He argued that Tanveer could not stand trial because of insanity. The Punjab Institute of Mental Health diagnosed Tanveer with Schizoaffective Disorder. The court suspended the trial in 2015, stating that Tanveer is “unfit to stand trial at present.”
No reports indicated that Tanveer was released on bail. However, prosecution counsel Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhary claimed that she continued working as a principal and even went abroad multiple times. The trial was resumed in 2019 after a panel from the Punjab Institute of Mental Health released an updated diagnosis; Tanveer is now fit for trial.
Tanveer’s counsel stuck to the same insanity narrative against the prosecution, who presented 11 witnesses. The court ruled that Tanveer is guilty of blasphemy, saying that her “abnormality falls short of legal insanity.”
The verdict also stated that “she shall be hanged by her neck till her death.”