Multitudes attend funeral of Salman Taseer assassin Mumtaz Qadri

A sea of humanity seen at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi on Tuesday during the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, as people raise their hands next to the ambulance carrying his body. Qadri, a police commando, was executed on Monday for the 2011 killing of then Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for what the former termed blasphemy.  

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis attended on Tuesday the funeral of police officer Mumtaz Qadri executed the day before for assassinating a secular Governor in 2011 over accusations of blasphemy.

As a precaution against violence, authorities closed all schools and stepped up security in Islamabad and the adjacent city of Rawalpindi, where the funeral of Qadri was held. Roads around key government buildings and diplomatic compounds were also closed off, said police official Ashfaq Tarar.

Rose petals thrown at ambulance

Qadri’s supporters threw rose petals at the ambulance carrying his coffin through Rawalpindi.

Authorities put a gag order on local media covering the funeral, warning outlets in a letter they would face closure if their reporting “glorifies extremism.” Reacting to the gag, some supporters beat up a media crew, breaking at least one video camera in Rawalpindi.

Shoe hurled at Minister

Meanwhile, footage posted on social media showed Qadri’s supporters jeering at Pakistani Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid at the Karachi airport. One threw a shoe at the Minister but he ducked.

Qadri’s hanging on Monday triggered street protests in several Pakistani cities as some religious, political leaders and militant groups have publicly defended him. He was executed for killing secular Gov. Salman Taseer who had called for reforms of the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.

Shortly after the attack, Qadri said he killed Taseer because the Governor had allegedly committed blasphemy by campaigning to change the laws and also in support of a jailed Christian woman accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Koran.

Supporters walk for miles together

Tens of thousands of Qadri’s supporters walked for miles to reach the funeral venue as police had blocked most of the roads for traffic, said police official Mohsin Abbas.

Many chanted in support of Qadri while others carried posters with photographs of the former officer. One of those in the crowds, Ahmad Nadeem, wore a T-shirt with the painted logo, “I’m Mumtaz Qadri.”

“I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same,” Nadeem said.

Blasphemy laws provide for death

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws allow for anyone convicted of insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad to be sentenced to death, though people often take the law into their own hands, with lynching on the streets and killings of those accused of blasphemy.

The January 2011 assassination horrified Pakistan’s relatively small liberal elite. However, many Pakistanis, including some in the religious establishment and in legal circles, praised Qadri a sign of the spread of Islamic fundamentalist thought in this South Asian nation.

Over 300 such executions

Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a Taliban school attack in December 2014 and has executed over 300 convicts since then.

The government has also taken measures against extremism, introducing a ban on hate speech, abuse of mosques, as well as media blackout on militant groups. Islamabad has also promised to improve security for minority groups and upgrade legislation on individual rights and women’s rights.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 9:35:30 AM |

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