Support for Assassin Qadri Shows How Far Pakistan Must Come
Wed, March 2, 2016
An angry mob riots in Pakistan. Illustrative picture. (Photo: © Reuters)
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Pakistan to mourn the death of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed for killing a former governor over anti-blasphemy legislation.
Qadri murdered his boss, then governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer, who opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, in 2011. Qadri was serving as Taseer’s security guard at the time.
Qadri was tried for murder and hanged but he has become a symbol of piety in Pakistan and his death has prompted an outpouring of support for his crime and for blasphemy laws.
Thousands of his supporters rioted in several cities, calling him a martyr.
Between 15,000 and 100,000 people are reported to have attended the funeral, chanting slogans such as “Qadri, your blood will bring the revolution" and "The punishment for a blasphemer is beheading."
Support for Qadri was also seen in Pakistani diaspora communities such as the UK. The British women’s charity Inspire condemned that support, saying they were “shocked” and “disappointed” that “a number of imams, Muslim groups and individuals have praised and defended Qadri’s act of murder.”
“We believe there is absolutely no justification – whether religious, moral or ethical – for supporting individuals like Qadri, least of all from an Islamic perspective” the group said in a statement. “Qadri’s supporters have argued that he honoured the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by murdering Taseer when in fact Qadri and his supporters have tainted the name of the Prophet and dishonoured his teachings by murdering a man in cold blood who showed solidarity with minority communities, as did the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
If the situation in Pakistan is so grave that an assassin is hailed is a hero and a martyr, while the liberal, reformist governor he murdered is reviled, then there is a very long way to go before Islamist extremism is defeated in that country.
Qadri's final journey (his body is seen in this video):
Elliot Friedland is the Dialogue Coordinator for Clarion Project.