BBC apologises for asking 'what is right punishment for blasphemy?'

Islamists protest against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, an elite police commander who assassinated a rival for speaking out on behalf of Asia Bibi, who is convicted and sentenced to death for blasphemy.Reuters

The BBC apologised on Saturday for asking 'what is the right punishment for blasphemy?' on its Asian Network Twitter account.

Intended to spark a debate about blasphemy on social media, the post came after the Pakistani government asked Facebook to help crack down on irreverence to God online.

In the original tweet, host Shazia Awan referred to a BBC article on the Pakistani government's plan to punish blasphemy.

In the apology the network said the tweet was badly worded and never intended to imply blasphemy should ever be punished.

It came after the network was heavily criticised for asking the question.

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Blasphemy laws are highly contentious in Pakistan with breaches often leading to mob riots and extra-judicial killings.

Christians and other minority groups are targeted under the controversial laws, human rights groups claim.

But Pakistan's interior minister Chaudhry Nisar vowed he would take 'any steps necessary' to ban blasphemous content online and wants Facebook to help identify those posting it.

'Facebook and other service providers should share all information about the people behind this blasphemous content with us,' he is quoted as saying in local media. 

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