Pakistan: Islamists Hail Salman Taseer’s Killer as a Hero

Salman Taseer Gathering

Mumtaz Qadri, the Elite Force commando who shot the former Punjab governor, was executed in Rawalpindi at the Adiala Jail around 4:30 in the morning on February 29.

Qadri was one of the bodyguards of the then-governor Salman Taseer. On January 4, 2011, in Islamabad, he shot Taseer 28 times while serving as his bodyguard. He was convicted and sentenced to death in the same year.

Taseer had been seeking to reform Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws that are highly misused against the minorities; he was fighting for the freedom of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been accused of blasphemy and sacrilege without proof. Asia Bibi, mother of five, is still in jail and has been convicted; she’s on death row. According to court documents, Qadri said he shot Taseer because of his statements in support of Asia Bibi. 

The reaction to Qadri’s hanging has been pretty divided. While liberals sighed with relief at finally seeing some justice being served in a country where murderers and criminals are hardly ever punished, Islamists took to the roads to protest, destroying the cities, burning cars, and attacking media personnel.

Tens of thousands of Islamists thronged to Rawalpindi to attend the funeral of the killer. The mosques announced his death, while the clerics hailed him as a hero and a martyr. The chairman of Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology, Maulana Mohammad Sherani, also endorsed Qadri’s views in a statement, saying:

“I respect Qadri’s religious sentiments but I respect Pakistan’s Constitution more.”

The security was upped in the capital ahead of Qadri’s funeral.

Photo Credits: Dawn.com

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