London: On 8th June, the Lahore High Court, upheld the death sentence of two Christian brothers, Qaiser and Amoon, in a blasphemy case.
They were accused of posting blasphemous contents on the internet and on June 2011, the complainant Muhammad Saeed submitted an application to Police Station, City Talagang to register a case against Qaiser and Amoon Ayub.
He told the police that while he was browsing the internet, he saw blasphemous content posted by the older brother Qaiser. On June 9th, 2011, and a case was registered against Qaiser and Amoon under sections 295A, 295B, and 295C.
In December 2018, the trial court found them guilty of posting blasphemous content on their blog. Additional Sessions Judge, Javed Iqbal Bosal, sentenced them to death with a 100,000/- (one hundred thousand rupees) fine.
The brothers have maintained their innocence, and say the allegations came after a fight had broken out between the older brother’s Muslim friends over one of the friend’s sisters.
Amoon believes his brother’s Muslim friends, Zaryab Sheikh and Sheraz Qureshi, created the website using Ayub’s information, to settle the score.
CLAAS submitted an appeal to the High Court against the death sentence. On February 28, 2022 The Lahore High Court Rawalpindi bench comprising Justice Raja Shahid Mehmood Abbasi and Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz heard the appeal and reserved the judgment, which was announced on June 8th and upheld their death sentence.
CLAAS’s team in Pakistan has visited the brothers in prison and Qaiser has signed the power of attorney, and now we are taking this case before the supreme court and hope the country’s highest court will do justice for them and God willing, they will be freed.
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK has said that the CLAAS team in Pakistan met the brothers in prison and when they were told about the decision of the high court, Amoon burst into tears while Qaiser also became very sad - their reaction was natural.
He added: “We all were hoping that because the court had reserved the verdict, and because they were taking so long to announce it, blasphemy charges against them would be dropped and both would be freed.
“But to the contrary, the High court upheld their death sentence. Both brothers were looking weak as they are already suffering from health issues.”
Nasir Saeed: “The brothers have signed the power of attorney, we are taking this case to the Pakistan Supreme court and are very hopeful that justice will be done and they will be freed. Unfortunately, we cannot tell how long it will take but we are hopeful that the country’s highest court will do justice.
“This will be the 3rd case of blasphemy which will be heard by the supreme court. We still believe that the brothers are innocent and it has not been proved that they had published any blasphemous contents.
“Instead Muhammed Saeed, who already had some rivalry with them, claimed Qaiser had posted blasphemous contents on the internet. He informed the police, and the brothers were charged under the blasphemy law.”
The Blasphemy law has a mandatory death penalty and has become a very sensitive and inflammatory issue in Pakistan. Mere blasphemy allegations often provoke mob violence and lynching of suspects while those who make false accusations of blasphemy are never asked questions.
Religious intolerance has grown in the country, and people take the law into their own hands without hesitation.
Lynching and vigilante justice has become an everyday phenomenon in Pakistan. Because of the government’s inaction and support from hardliner religious groups, criminals are encouraged and continue killing innocent people with impunity.
Those who take the law into their own hands are considered heroes as we have seen in the case of the then Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, killed by his own bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Qadri. Every time he would attend a court hearing, people would shower rose petals on him and two senior retired judges, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, former chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and former LHC judge, Mian Nazeer Akhtar, were representing him in the court.
CLAAS is among the organisations that have been campaigning to end the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law for years. The Pakistani government is aware of its misuse but has unfortunately failed to bring any changes to the law or stop its misuse.