Churches condemn glorification of killer
Pakistani Christians say religious fanaticism and intolerance growing
“Our nation is divided in two forces -- the moderates and the extremists. There is a bleak hope for justice when literate people like lawyers garland the murderer of the liberal governor. This is an indication of the chronic deterioration in society,” said Lahore vicar general Father Andrew Nisari yesterday during Sunday Mass at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Salman Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province, was gunned down on Jan. 4 in Islamabad. His bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, told police he killed Taseer for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws. The self-confessed assassin later revealed his active membership with Dawat-e-Islami, a party of Islamic preachers.
Special prayers were held in the memory of Taseer on Jan. 9 as the Church observed “Minorities Prayer Day” countrywide.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan described the killing as “a sign of growing religious fanaticism in the country which shows no tolerance for other beliefs or opinions.”
“Our country is passing through a big crisis. The governor raised his voice over a difficult issue affecting the down trodden,” said Ayra Inderias, secretary of the Women’s Desk of the Church of Pakistan’s Lahore diocese, during service at the Protestant Cathedral Church of Resurrection.
After the assassination, several pro-Islamic groups and lawyers greeted the killer when he was brought to court in Islamabad.
Over 2,000 users reportedly joined a Qadri fan club page on Facebook before it was removed from the website.
Fatwas have also been issued against Sherry Rehman, a former information federal minister who advocated amending the blasphemy laws, calling her a non-Muslim and demanding her death sentence.
Meanwhile, several Christian organizations rallied at Jan. 7 during a candlelight vigil organized by the Joint Action Committee for people’s right to protest the murder.
“We condemn the emerging hero worship of an assassin and the culture of incitement and hatred,” said a press release issued by Rising Pakistan, a human rights organization.
It stated that continued inaction by successive governments was to blame and that “We implored the government to take real and meaningful (action) against those inciting hate crimes and murder of those who dare to engage in the debate about the blasphemy laws.”
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