Less than two months after Christian mother Asia Bibi was acquitted on blasphemy charges, two more believers have been sentenced to death. Qaisar and Amoon Ayub, from Lahore, were detained in 2015 after one of the men was accused of posting offensive material against the Islamic faith on their website.
Since their arrest, the pair of brothers have been held in the Jhelum District Jail awaiting trial. Their case was heard case on December 13 withing the confines on their prison walls as a result of security concerns. Additional Session judge Javed Iqbal Bosal subsequently found them both guilty and sentenced them to death, according to Vatican News.
The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) has been representing the two men since their ordeal began. “CLAAS has decided to challenge the decision before the Lahore High Court Bench at Rawalpindi as soon as possible,” the organization noted in a press release on the case. “CLAAS believes that in blasphemy cases the judges always remain under threat from religious fanatics and that is why the trial judges convict those accused of blasphemy.”
The campaign group noted its belief that the Judge in the case “did not apply his judicious mind” and “convicted the accused in a very casual manner.”
“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,” said CLAAS director, Nasir Saeed.
“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,” Saeed continued. “I am afraid now Qasir and Amoon will have to wait years to get justice. It is a sad reality that the present government has no intention even to talk about or to take steps to stop the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law.”
Saeed concluded that “the killing of innocent people will continue” unless there is a “growing opposition to the law around the world.”
WHAT IS PAKISTAN’S BLASPHEMY LAW?
Section 295-B and C of Pakistan’s penal code makes it a criminal offense to blaspheme against the Prophet Muhammad. According to the Penal Code itself, 295-B refers to the prohibiting of “Defiling, etc., of Holy Qur’an,” and 295-C is in reference to the “use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet.” Other non-Islamic-specific violations contained in Pakistan’s criminal laws include “trespassing on burial places” and “disturbing religious assembly.”
The most well-known blasphemy case in recent years has been that of Christian mother Asia Bibi. Bibi, a farm worker from Punjab province, was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during an interaction with two Muslim women. The women accused Bibi of drinking from the same tap as them, to which Bibi allegedly responded, “Jesus Christ died for my sins. What did the prophet Muhammad do for you?” a remark which they believed offended their revered religious figure.
However, in the Supreme Court’s final judgment, it declared that the two sisters who accused Bibi “had no regard for the truth,” before adding that “the said semi-literate young sisters had a reason to level allegations against the appellant which could be untrue.”
Many other Christians have been convicted on charges of blasphemy. Just before Bibi’s final appeal hearing, a mentally disabled man was sentenced to life for allegedly insulting the Prophet.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ASIA BIBI?
On October 31, Bibi was acquitted of the bogus blasphemy charges and freed almost immediately. However, the mother-of-five has been forced to remain in Pakistan, and is currently being held at an undisclosed location in Islamabad for her own safety.
“She remains under police protection in Pakistan at a secret location, unable to even exit the room she is in for fear she will be instantly killed…” said Wilson Chowdhry from the British Pakistani Christian Association, according to Premier UK.
A final petition to challenge the Supreme Court ruling will be heard in January.
Do continue to pray for all those who continue to fall victim to this draconian law.