Qaiser and Amoon Ayub were sentenced to hang after being convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in articles and portraits posted online
ISLAMABAD — Two Christian brothers have been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, weeks after Asia Bibi was acquitted of the same crime following international outcry.
Qaiser and Amoon Ayub, from Lahore, were sentenced to hang by a district judge after being convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammed in articles and portraits posted on their website.
Qaiser, 44, and Amoon, 38, fled the country after they were first accused of the crime in 2011, but eventually returned home and were arrested. The pair have been in prison in Jhelum since 2014.
Both men were convicted last week of the “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet,” under strict blasphemy punishments covered by Pakistan’s penal code.
The conviction must be confirmed by the high court and both men can appeal.
Tahir Bashir, counsel for the two men, said they were alleged to have uploaded blasphemous content on the United Christians Organisation of Pakistan website in August 2010. A complaint was only registered a year later, by a Muslim cleric from another district. Bashir said while the men had started the website, they were not operating it at the time of the offence.
The sentence was handed down only two days after America put Pakistan on a religious freedom blacklist, and is expected to again draw attention to the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.