Pakistan: Two Christians, one Muslim sentenced to death for blasphemy

Two Christians and a Muslim have been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan.

A pastor holds a large crucifix as he and fellow Christians stage a street protest in Pakistan over the persecution of minority Christians in the Muslim-dominated country.Reuters

Anjam Naz and Javed Naz, both Christians, and Jafar Ali, a Musilm, have been found guilty for insulting Prophet Muhammad by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Gujranwala, Punjab province.

The three men were found to have insulted the prophet in an audio recording.

"When police arrested Javed and Jafar on May 15, they recovered an audio recording of Anjam committing blasphemy," said Mohammad Tanveer a senior police official, according to Newsweek Pakistan.

"We also recovered the recorded audio from Jafar's possession and found that he and Javed were blackmailing Anjam by threatening to release the audio to the public if he did not pay them."

The two Christians have also been sentenced to a 35-year life sentence in prison.

"They will now be permitted to appeal the verdict before a higher court," said Tanveer.

Attacks on Christians and Christian institutions are common in Pakistan, ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution by Open Doors.

The misuse of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy law is common and it is often used to settle private scores. Among other high-profile cases is that of Asia Bibi, who has been in prison for six years for insulting the prophet Muhammad, an allegation she has always denied.