A 30-year-old Pakistani man was sentenced to death on Saturday for comments he made about the Prophet Muhammad and his wives on Facebook and messaging service WhatsApp.
The incident marks the first time in Pakistan that a person was sentenced to death for blasphemy due to comments posted on social media, the New York Times reported.
Taimoor Raza was convicted of blasphemy in an anti-terrorism court in Punjab Province by Judge Bashir Ahmed. Raza can appeal the sentence.
Officials arrested Raza in April 2016 after they said he showed people at a bus station the content on his phone.
"The forensic report of his mobile phone showed that he had committed blasphemy in at least 3,000 posts," said Muhammad Shafique Qureshi, the prosecutor in Raza's case, according to the New York Times.
Qureshi told Al-Jazeera that while it is rare for a counter-terrorism court to hear a blasphemy case, Raza's is also tied to hate speech because Raza, a Shiite Muslim, also allegedly spoke derogatorily about the Deobandi sect, which adheres to a strict form of Sunni Islam.
Officials found 20,000 Iranian rials on Raza from the Shiite-majority nation, roughly equivalent to 60 cents in U.S. dollars, the New York Times reported. Qureshi told the Times that Raza confessed to being a member of the Shiite group Sipah-e-Muhammad, which is banned in Pakistan and committed acts of violence against Sunni groups.
Raza's sentence comes after a crackdown on blasphemy in social media by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government and the April killing of Pakistani college student Marshal Khan by fellow students due to alleged blasphemy.