Two Christian brothers have reportedly been sentenced to death in Pakistan after one of them was accused of posting content deemed disrespectful of Islam on their website.
The United Kingdom-based charity Centre for Legal, Aid, Assistance & Settlement has raised alarm about the sentencing of Qaisar and Amoon Ayub.
The group explained that the death sentences were handed down last Thursday by Judge Javed Iqbal Bosal after a hearing in a Jhelum jail in the Punjab province.
The brothers, who are from the city of Lahore, were arrested in 2014 after the reopening of a police case stemming from a 2011 allegation.
Qaisar had previously explained that he closed down the webpage in question in 2009. However, he claims one of his Muslim friends restored the webpage.
The accusation of blasphemy was made after Qaisar got into an argument with his friends at work. Qaisar then began receiving death threats and went into hiding.
Both Qaisar and Amon eventually fled to Singapore before returning after one month, according to Asia News.
Although they would return, they would soon flee again to Thailand because the situation was still not safe for them. As the brothers spent years on the run, they were told that police were looking for him.
In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime that is punishable with the death penalty or life in prison.
Qaisar is married with three kids, while Amoon is married to a teacher.
CLAAS plans to appeal Qaiser’s death sentence to the Lahore High Court Bench at Rawalpindi, while the American Center for Law & Justice’s Pakistan office is handling the appeal for Amoon. CLAAS asserts that in many blasphemy cases, judges are “under threat from religious fanatics” to “convict those accused of blasphemy.”
“This is a very unfortunate situation as because of threats from hardliners lower courts pass their responsibility to the higher court and then it takes years to prove the accused innocent,” CLAAS Director Nasir Saeed said in a statement. “We have seen this in the recent case of Asia Bibi, who was similarly convicted by the lower court and it took her years to reach to the Supreme Court to get justice. I am afraid now Qasir and Amoon will have to wait years to get justice.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith