Defendants accused of tearing down posters and insulting the prophet Mohammad
Three members of Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmadiyya Muslim minority have reportedly been sentenced to death for blasphemy.
The men – named as Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed – were convicted after alllegedly tearing down posters in Boihwal, a village 22km southwest of Lahore.
The trio’s defence lawyers claimed the posters carried anti-Ahmadi slogans, yet prosecutors said the posters featured Islamic verses and that tearing them down was equivalent to insulting the prophet Muhammad.
Khalil Ahmed – a fourth accused man accused – was shot and killed while in police custody only days after the incident happened, Al Jazeera reported.
Ahmadiyah spokesperson Saleemuddin told the Qatari broadcaster the community would challenge the decision.
Rights organisations describe the Ahmadiyah Muslim community as the most relentlessly persecuted community in Pakistan.
Orthodox Muslims regard followers as heretics because they do not believe Muhammad was the final prophet to guide mankind.
Followers of the sect of Islam can be jailed for up to three years in Pakistan for referring to themselves as Muslims or calling their places of worship mosques.
Pakistani MP Muhammad Safdar on Tuesday called for the minority to be barred from serving in the military and judiciary.
“These people [Ahmadis] are a threat to this country, its constitution and ideology,” he said. “This situation is heading towards a dangerous point.”