44-year-old Qasir and 38-year-old Amoon Ayub have been sentenced to death for blasphemy. The two brothers, who are among the few Christians in Pakistan, need our prayers.
Since 2014, they have been jailed north of Lahore in Jhelum Prison for allegedly posting “disrespectful material” toward Muslims on their website, according to AsiaNews.
The Brothers’ Story
Qasir’s and Amoon’s story goes back to 2010 when a quarrel at Qasir’s office broke out. One of Qasir’s friends allegedly made a comment about the sister of another friend, who then blamed Qasir for the insult.
He told Qasir that this was a very serious issue in Pakistan and shortly afterward, Qasir began to receive death threats, forcing him and his brother to flee Pakistan. Eventually, they returned home quietly. Amoon was then arrested at the airport trying to leave the country a second time and Qasir was also held.
Both men were convicted of the “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet”, under strict blasphemy punishments covered by Pakistan’s penal code.
“The prosecution has proved its case against both the accused beyond shadow of reasonable doubt,” the judge concluded in a 28-page ruling.
He went on: “Hence, both the convicts are to be sentenced to death.”
Qasir has said he closed his website account in 2009 but that one of the Muslims had somehow had been able to take the website back online while keeping it in Qasir’s name and had posted the content now used as evidence against the brothers, according to AsiaNews.
Appealing to a Higher Court
The brothers’ legal representation, the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, plans to appeal the sentence to the Lahore High Court.
“In this case, the trial judge did not apply his judicious mind and convicted the accused in a very casual manner,” the brothers’ legal aid said on its website, adding that because of threats from hardliners, lower courts pass their responsibility to the higher court, which then takes years to prove innocence.
“We have seen this in the recent case of [Christian mother] Asia Bibi, who was similarly convicted by the lower court, and it took her years to reach the Supreme Court to get justice,” the website says. “I am afraid now Qasir and Amoon will have to wait years to get justice.”
After eight years on death row convicted of blasphemy that allegedly took place when Asia was working in the fields with Muslim laborers, she was acquitted on October 31, 2018, by Pakistan’s Supreme Court and was recently cleared to leave the country.
The U.S. State Department recently announced that it had added Pakistan to its list of Countries of Particular Concern for religious freedom violations because of the country’s blasphemy laws. Often, the laws are used unfairly by Muslims against non-Muslims for personal vendettas or to seize property.
“[Of] the world’s population of people that are in prison for blasphemy, half of them are in Pakistani prisons,” the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, said during a press briefing.
Praying With Qasir and Amoon
- Pray that Qasir and Amoon’s appeal process would happen quickly and that the higher court will act with immediacy and courage to acquit the brothers.
- Pray for the brothers’ legal aid as they appeal the case and work to expedite the process. Pray for wisdom, perseverance and favor with the courts.
- Pray that God would comfort and strengthen Qasir and Amoon as they await their appeal. Pray for their safety and emotional well-being. Ask God to remind them of His presence in miraculous ways we can’t imagine.
- Pray for the families of the brothers. Both men are married. and Qasir and his wife, Amina, have three children. Amoon is married to Huma. Qasir’s imprisonment has affected his family, in particular, the mental health of his 14-year-old son.