muslim Archive

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A good man who did something

Salman Taseer’s death provides a parable of why his country, which promised so much, has slipped so far, the Economist writes.

In his first speech to Pakistan’s constituent assembly, on August 11th 1947, the country’s president, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, made clear his belief that religious toleration should prevail in the country he had brought into being. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan.”

It is a dreadful measure of how far Pakistan has sunk since then that Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, was murdered on January 4th because of his outspoken support for that principle.

Mr Taseer, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party and a close ally of the president, Asif Ali Zardari, had been campaigning on behalf of Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian farm worker who in the course of a row with neighbours over drinking water was accused of blasphemy, convicted and sentenced to death.

He had called for her to be pardoned, and also for the law, under which death for blasphemy against the prophet is mandatory, to be changed. His murderer, one of his bodyguards, said this was why the governor was killed.

Thousands of Muslims rally over blasphemy law in Pakistan

More than 50,000 Muslims rallied in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi on Sunday, police said, against the controversial reform of a blasphemy law that was behind the killing of a senior politician.

Religious groups blocked a main thoroughfare in Karachi’s teeming metropolis holding banners in support of the police commando who shot dead Punjab governor Salman Taseer on Tuesday over his views favouring an amendment of the law, AFP reports.

Taseer had called for reform of the blasphemy law that was recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death. But his outspoken liberal stance offended the country’s increasingly powerful conservative religious base.

“Mumtaz Qadri is not a murderer, he is a hero,” said one banner in the national Urdu language in support of the man who carried out Pakistan’s most high-profile political killing in three years. “We salute the courage of Qadri,” said another.

Religious students filled the street wearing scarves and turbans inscribed with “Allah-o-Akbar” and bellowing slogans in favour of holy war.

See also:
Islam and terrorism
• Note: It is our policy to file news about hate crimes committed in the name of Islam in the ‘Hate Groups’ topic.