(RNS) A former banking executive who helped launch the nation’s first Muslim television station faces 15 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him on Tuesday (Feb. 8) of murdering and decapitating his wife nearly two years ago.

Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan, 46, never denied killing Aasiya Zubair Hassan, who he met while visiting his native Pakistan in 2000. They married the same year, and settled in upstate New York.

Shocked by what she considered to be anti-Muslim hostility in the American media, Hassan’s wife persuaded her husband to start a television station to help improve Muslims’ image and their relationship with other Americans.

In 2004, they launched Bridges TV in Orchard Park, N.Y., which featured a mix of religious, cultural and news programming from a Muslim perspective, as well as non-Muslim programming. The station, operated by a multi-religious group, continues to broadcast.

Behind the ambitious project was a turbulent relationship in which, according to trial testimony, Hassan abused his wife. A week before her murder on Feb. 12, 2009, Zubair Hassan, 37, had filed for divorce.

Many anti-Muslim critics seized on the crime as an example of the inherent evil and misogyny of Islam. Muslims and others have rejected those allegations, condemned Hassan, and charged critics with exploiting a tragedy to demonize a religion that Zubair Hassan deeply cared for.

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