An actress known for her work in Bollywood films has been given a 26-year prison term for what a Pakistani court calls “malicious acts” of blasphemy. The British publication The Independent reports that the sentence was given to Veena Malik over a mock wedding scene that she appeared in on television.
“Her crime? Appearing in a pretend wedding scene, staged on a daytime show broadcast by Geo TV and based on the marriage of the Prophet Mohamed’s daughter,” the publication reports. “The programme sparked a wave of controversy in the Islamic country when it aired in May, despite the fact similar scenes had been aired in the past to little or no such public outrage. Some even apparently suspected that Pakistan’s military were behind the mock wedding, and that it was put on in a bid to wage a blasphemy war against the broadcaster.”
Malik has a long string of credits in the Pakistani and Indian film industries, along with a career as a model and TV host. Her husband, Asad Bashir Khan, also received a 26-year sentence, as did Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, described in the report as the chief executive of the biggest media group in Pakistan.
The court order reads in part: “The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency.”
The piece notes that the case may be headed to higher courts, and that Malik may not end up serving the sentence.
Malik, who made the decision to return to Pakistan to challenge the court order, said: “I have always been a person who faced troubles by looking it in the eye. I have faced highs and lows in my life. But I am sure I haven’t done anything wrong.”