Church organizations in India have joined global condemnation of the assassination of liberal Pakistan politician Salman Taseer. “We condemn the killing of a sane political leader, who rightly opposed the unjust blasphemy laws,” Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told ucanews.com today. Salman Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province, was shot dead on Jan. 4 by his bodyguard at an Islamabad market. The assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri told police he killed Taseer for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws. The assassination has silenced “an eminent political leader” who worked for an inclusive Pakistani society that respected a secular ethos, Father Joseph said.
An Indian news channel reporting on the Pakistan Punjab Governor’s assassination
Certain sections in Pakistan are “greatly misusing” the blasphemy law to target religious minorities, especially Christians, the Divine Word priest lamented. The ecumenical All India Christian Council said it is mourning with “all human rights defenders in Pakistan” the death of “one of the sane voices” in that country. “Taseer’s lifelong opposition to the black laws of blasphemy” stood out “in the midst of the fundamentalist cacophony that has smitten human rights” in Pakistan, said John Dayal, its secretary-general. The council has urged the United States and “other international friends of Pakistan” to join human rights defenders in Pakistan to press for the repeal of the blasphemy laws. The blasphemy laws make an insult to the Qur’an an offense punishable by up to life imprisonment, while giving the death penalty to anyone convicted of insulting Prophet Muhammad. Church leaders have long charged that the blasphemy laws are being abused for personal gain and to harass non-Muslims. Related reports More blood from blasphemy Christian blasphemy law not needed, says bishop IA12727.1635