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Pakistan: Salmaan Taseer- We Buried A Man Not His Courage

Activists of Civil Society protests against the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, in Hyderabad, Sindh Pakistan. Image by Yasir Rajpot. Copyright Demotix.

Much has been said in the wake of the assassination of  Governor Punjab Salman Taseer. Needless to say, the reactions that followed after his death have had the world gripped in shock and horror. Questions are being raised about the extent of extremism in the country with claims like Taseer's death being “The death of liberalism in Pakistan“. Taseer's death has brought to the forefront a clear distinction, on one hand are those who endorse the assassination and glorify the assassin and on the other hand those that consider his death a setback and a national loss.

Putting things into perspective Naveen Naqvi remarked:

In response to PPP’s MNA Sherry Rehman’s submission of a bill to amend the blasphemy laws, the Islamist parties announced two rallies — December 31 and January 9(..)the numbers at the latter went as high as 40,000. There is no doubt in my mind that the glorification by Islamist parties and mainstream media outlets of Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, bolstered political Islamic sentiment.But when these men came out onto the streets on January 9 to chant in support of the blasphemy laws, they knew they were the majority. Frankly, there is no real moral substance in that. When those opposed to these laws stand together and claim public space, they know their vulnerability. They are painfully and mournfully aware of their status — that of a disappearing minority. That has not stopped hundreds — a small number but large in strength — from coming out every day.

It also highlights how the religious parties have been framing the entire blasphemy law debate before and after the assassination. On my own blog I spoke about the reasons behind Taseer's assassination, contrary to popular belief being spread by the religious parties:

Taseer wasn’t a blasphemer, he had never insulted the Quran, the Prophet (PBUH) or Islam but he was killed in the name of the blasphemy law that according to him, was “man-made”. Governor Taseer was killed because he asked for mercy for a 45-year old mother of five. Twenty-seven bullets for taking a stance. His murder highlights the abuse of Islam and Quran for the sake of power and authority. By encouraging such behavior we are promoting lawlessness and a state where people will be at each other’s throat on a mere disagreement. Is this the message of the Quran? Is this what Islam teaches us? How humane is it to rejoice someone’s death?

Taha Kehar at Pak Tea house calls Taseer's Murder “The beginning of misinterpreted Islam”:

Salman Taseer’s assassination is a major turning point for the Islamic world and the fact that many elements within it are possibly pleased by his death is shameful. Lastly, the manner in which he died reminds us of Indira Gandhi’s untimely assassination. However, the only difference here is that Indira Gandhi was launching a bigoted attack on the Sikh religion but Mr. Taseer was only trying to protect the civil liberties of those from a religion other than his own. More significantly, the end-result of his campaign would have benefited everyone in equal measure. Is this the end of moderate Islam or the outset of a string of civil rights violations?

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