Dublin - Vigil held in support of Junaid Hafeez
Last Month , 33 year old Junaid Hafeez, A university lecturer in Pakistan was sentenced to death for blasphemy accused of having insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad and its holy book the Quran on Facebook in 2013 . Since then he has spent the past number of years in prison in solitary confinement after repeated attacks by other prisoners.
Mr Hafeez's first lawyer Rashid Rehman was shot dead in 2014 for agreeing to defend him. After the death sentence was read out by a court in the Central Jail in Multan where Mr Hafeez was being held , Prosecution lawyers celebrated by handing out sweets to their colleagues, who chanted "Allahu akbar" and "death to blasphemers".
Mr Hafeez's lawyer has said the conditions of his incarceration are taking a toll on the young academic.
"He has been very agitated. He cannot talk very coherently," he said. "When I used to meet him in the beginning [of the case], he would meet me with a smile and had a lot of passion ... after so many years in solitary confinement, it has an effect on a person."
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it was "dismayed by the verdict", adding that "HRCP believes that the blasphemy laws are heavily misused".
"In five years, at least eight judges have heard Mr Hafeez’s case, making a fair trial virtually impossible. Meanwhile, he has undergone six years’ imprisonment in solitary confinement .. HRCP reposes its faith in the higher judiciary and hopes that the verdict will be overturned in appeal."
The vast majority of those convicted under Pakistan's blasphemy laws are Ahmadi Muslims who are regarded as heretical by orthodox Islam but many christians have also been convicted .
This Week a Vigil by the Yellow Vest Dublin and Alliance of Former Muslims (Ireland) was held outside Leinster House to highlight the case of Junaid Hafeez .