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Salman Taseer's killing and the making of a martyr
The killing of Salman Taseer in Lahore has brought to attention again the extent to which the poison of religious extremism has spread in the society.Already his killer has been anointed a martyr.
THE BLASPHEMY Law of Pakistan brought forth another ‘blasphemous’ result on the afternoon of  January 4 in Lahore. Salman Taseer, the outspoken Governor of Punjab province, was gunned down brutally in broad daylight by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of his own security detail. The security guard managed to fire 27 times before he was restrained and arrested by the other guards.
Qadri is said to have confessed and said that he killed Salman Taseer because it was his religious duty to do so. Taseer’s crime: he had met with and spoken out in support of, Asia Bibi, the poor Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Taseer was a strong critic of the controversial law and had even termed it a ‘black law’. He paid for his views with his life.
In itself this is perhaps not the biggest political killing in Pakistan which saw Benazir Bhutto being killed in 2007. But what makes this important is the bewildering responses to the killing. In the one and a half days since Taseer’s slaying these are some of the news dominating Pakistani news.
·         Up to 500 religious scholars have issued an edict forbidding people from mourning Taseer’s death and attending his funeral.
·         Mumtaz Qadri, the killer, has already been anointed variously as a hero/martyr/worthy bearer of Ilm-Ud-Din’s legacy. Ilm-Ud –Din had killed Raj Pal, a publisher, in broad daylight in 1929 in Lahore for publishing a book deemed disrespectful of Prophet Mohammad. An illiterate, seventeen year old carpenter, he was elevated to the level of a martyr for his deed and is revered in Pakistan especially by those, who are vociferous in the support of the Blasphemy Law.
·         As Qadri was brought for a court appearance thousands turned out to catch a glimpse of him, pat his head, touch him and show their support for him.
·         Lawyer’s from the bar association have turned out on the streets to pledge free legal support for the killer.
The criticism of the killing has been, by and large, limited to the English newspapers. The hundreds of thousands, who have come out in support of the Blasphemy Law and Qadri have been, once again, able to forcefully silence the so called ‘mute majority’ of Pakistanis, who are against such religious bigotry. The near senseless slogans and the hateful fury of the demonstrators makes one wonder what is next for the troubled and crumbling nation.
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