LAHORE, Pakistan—Lawyers showered the suspected killer of a prominent Pakistani governor with rose petals when he arrived at court Wednesday and an influential Muslim scholars group praised the assassination of the outspoken opponent of laws that order death for those who insult Islam.
Punjab. Gov. Salman Taseer's killing has sent tremors through the ranks of Pakistan's already embattled progressives and rights activists. Thousands gathered to mourn the politician at his funeral in the city of Lahore.
Taseer was shot dead Tuesday, allegedly at the hands of one of the men assigned to protect him — police commando Mumtaz Qadri, 26, who police say confessed to killing Taseer because of the politician's opposition to strict blasphemy laws.
As Qadri made his first appearance in an Islamabad court, where a judge remanded him in custody, the hero's welcome he received illustrated Pakistan's growing identity crisis as fundamentalist Islam has spread here over the years, forcing even secular political parties to curry favor with the religious right.
A rowdy crowd slapped Qadri on the back and kissed his cheek as he was escorted inside the court. Lawyers not involved in his case tossed rose petals, while hundreds of sympathizers chanted slogans in his favor and one gave him a flower necklace.
More than 500 clerics and scholars from the group Jamat Ahle Sunnat said no one should pray or express regret for the killing. The group representing Pakistan's majority Barelvi sect, which follows a brand of Islam considered moderate, also issued a veiled threat to other opponents of the blasphemy laws.
"The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy," the group warned in a statement, adding politicians, the media and others should learn "a lesson from the exemplary death." (Read more.)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
More Than 500 Muslim Scholars Defend Assassination of Moderate Muslim Politician Salman Taseer
But if we keep telling ourselves that Islam is a religion of peace, it may come true.