10/07/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims on strike against the death sentence for the murder of Salman Taseer

Jibran Khan
Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who killed the Punjab governor, called "a hero of Islam" by Muslim parties and movements who are marching today after prayers in mosques. The bishop of Islamabad, "Qadri has betrayed a trust, killing the person whom he had sworn to protect."
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Political parties and clerics have declared a nationwide strike for today to protest against the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. Yesterday Mumtaz Qadri appealed to the High Court in Islamabad against the death sentence pronounced by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi October 1 last. (04/01/2011 Punjab governor assassinated, he had called for Asia Bibi’s pardon).

Qadri's lawyer, Raja Shujahur Rehman, told the appeals court on that the anti-terrorism court was not the appropriate authority in the case, which should have been dealt with by the Federal Shariat Court. According to the lawyer, the Qadri case did not fall under the Pakistan Penal Code because he had killed a blasphemer according to the teachings of Islam. The appeal argues that Qadri is not responsible for terrorism, because killing Taseer was not an act of terror, and the lawyer concluded that the court had ignored Islamic jurisprudence. Shujahur Rehman said that "no sense of panic or insecurity has been created in the public at the time of the killing, so you can not define it as an act of terrorism, but on the contrary, people heaved a sigh of relief after the killing of a blasphemer. "

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the court in Islamabad chanting slogans in support Qadri and condemnation of the judge. The discussion of the appeal has been scheduled for Oct. 11. Deobandi and Wahhabi groups have announced their support for the demonstration organized by Islamic parties and other groups (about 40 in all) against the verdict, calling Mumtaz Qadri an "Islamic hero." The Islamic Sunni Tehrik group has offered a large Dyat as "blood money" to the Taseer family to obtain forgiveness of Qadri. The chief of Jamat Islami (Islamic Union) Munawar Hassan said: "The verdict of conviction was a political decision to please the West, and every decision that goes against Islamic ideology is unacceptable, we live in an Islamic state."

In addition to the closure of all activities, proclaimed by the Islamic parties, after Friday prayers there will be protest marches across the country. The organizers said that the protest will continue until the liberation of Qadri, and the elimination of every secular element opposed to the blasphemy law. One of the Islamic leaders, Maulana Aziz said: "We'll get his release, and will not allow any profanity to exist in Pakistan. We will kill every blasphemer, and will ensure that Islam will prevail. "
The human rights organization Masihi Foundation in a press release said: "The conditions in Pakistan are becoming increasingly critical because of every day bigotry, which will lead to more violence and chaos. If we disagree with someone, you need not be violent. Individuals can not arrogate to themselves the authority to judge anyone, Muslim or infidel. Mumtaz Qadri has committed a heinous crime, and worse, a murder motivated by ideological reasons. The victim was the governor of Punjab, who in the observance of his public duty had met a woman convicted under a discriminatory law [Asia Bibi]. We oppose the death penalty in general, people should reject the death penalty in an unequivocal manner, especially as it is applied in Pakistan. Liberals who say they are against the penalty, but then go on to assert that they would support it in Qadri’s case, as an exception, have no ground to stand on".

The bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Rufin Anthony said: "Qadri betrayed his trust and murdered the person he swore to protect. I am amazed that an attorney said that the court`s verdict is illegal and baseless, so is killing a person justified? Those who in this case argue that Quaid-e-Azam, Father and Founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the lawyer for the first Blasphemy case of IIam Din and tried to save him from capital punishment must understand that Mr. Jinnah was not the trial lawyer for Ilam Din. Jinnah only represented him in the appeal against the death sentence. Jinnah sought compassion from the court pleading the boy’s tender ageHe did not defend the action of Ilam Din, i.e. killing of Rajpal as justified".
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