Court / Presiding Judge
Beni Mazar Juvenile Misdemeanour Court
The court issued its verdict on February 25, 2016.
The court sentenced three defendants to five years in prison and referred the fourth defendant to a juvenile institution.
Summary of Reasoning
The case dates back to a 33-second video mocking an Islamic State beheading made and uploaded by four high school students with the help of their teacher. When the video was discovered, clashes occurred and attacks upon Christian properties ensued. The students and teacher faced blasphemy charges. Ultimately, the students were charged with performing Islamic rites in a way that did not comport with religion and dissemination of such using the media, while showing contempt for Islam by imitating prayer rites to foment sectarian strife.
A customary reconciliation session was organized for the incident, where it was decided that the teacher would be permanently expelled from the village with his family; the students would be allowed to stay and were guaranteed the protection of the mayor. The reconciliation session determined that legal action against the students and teacher would proceed. The teacher in question was sentenced to three years in prison in a case separate from that of the students.
Legal & Judicial Implications
Historically, informal reconciliation sessions were relied on as an alternative to the judicial process when resolving issues implicating religious minorities. These sessions rarely resulted in full justice and gave rise to a form of lesser and shadow justice. In this case, the use of both a reconciliation session and a judicial process compounded the punitive measures against the students and teacher in question. On a separate note, the referral of a case in which the Islamic State is being mocked, rather than Islam, is also cause for serious concern regarding what constitutes insult to Islam and the expansive definition of the legal provision, which is already problematic.