A Pakistani court sentenced Christian brothers Qaisar and Amoon Ayub to death for blasphemy after they were convicted of insulting the Islamic prophet Mohammed in articles and portraits posted on their website.
Qaisar (44) and Amoon (38) have been held in Jhelum District Jail, Punjab province, 200km north of Lahore, since they were arrested in 2014.
Additional Session Judge Javed Iqbal Bosal heard their case in the jail for security reasons. He found them guilty of the “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet” and sentenced them to death by hanging.
Tahir Bashir, counsel for the two men, said they were alleged to have uploaded blasphemous content to their website in August 2010. He said that while the brothers had started the website, they were not operating it at the time of the offence. Qaisar has said he closed his account in 2009 but that a Muslim friend somehow put the website back online, keeping it in Qaisar’s name.
A complaint was only registered in 2011, when a Muslim cleric from another district accused them of posting disrespectful material on their website.
Qaisar and his wife Amina have three children, and his imprisonment has reportedly affected his family, especially the mental health of his 14-year-old son.
Amoon is married to Huma, a teacher at Lahore Cathedral School.
It comes as Asia Bibi – who was cleared of blasphemy by the country’s Supreme Court in October – spent another Christmas in prison in Pakistan.
Despite her having no case to answer, she has had to remain in prison for her own safety after Islamists vowed to kill her.