01/08/2011, 00.00
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Punjab: Salman Taseer’s assassin linked to Islamist movements

by Jibran Khan
Mumtaz Qadri affiliated with the conservative group Dawat-e-Islami. The fundamentalist leaders celebrate the killing and call for a boycott of the mourning for the death of the governor. Marches tomorrow in Karachi in favour of the blasphemy law. Catholics pray for Taseer and call for "thorough investigations" into killing.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the murderer of Salman Taseer - Governor of Punjab, who was killed on January 4 - belongs to the Dawat-e-Islami group, an Islamic Association of political and (officially) non-violent nature, which is based on the Barelvi conservative movement. A march organized by Islamic radicals against the "conspirators" who want to repeal the blasphemy law is planned for tomorrow in Karachi. Meanwhile, Catholic leaders in Pakistan, having decided not to attend Taseer’s funeral of to avoid further incidents, have laid flowers and prayed at the governor’s tomb. The leadership of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has also called for "thorough investigations" and demanded that the guilty be "brought to justice."

A colleague of Mumtaz Qadri (pictured) has confirmed that he belonged to the Dawat-i-Islami group, close to the Sunni Muslim movement Barelvi. Founded in 1880, it has spread throughout the Indian sub-continent and has been characterized for its promotion of Islamic tradition and the fight against any attempt to modernize doctrine. More than 500 Islamic leaders of the movement have paid tribute to the murderer and called on "Muslims all over the country" to boycott the days of mourning in memory of Salman Taseer. Tomorrow a Tahfuz Namoos-e-Rislat March will be held in Karachi, an initiative against any "conspiracy" to repeal the blasphemy law. The leaders of the Tehreek-e-Namoos Rislat have met people and personalities from all walks of life, inviting the population to join the mass march. The city has been plastered with posters and billboards, leaflets, lauding the "march of the million" to support the infamous law.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Catholic Church of Pakistan has paid tribute to the figure of Salman Taseer and his efforts against the fundamentalist current that is sweeping through Pakistan. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) has laid flowers at the tomb of the governor and prayed for the deceased and the family. The priest has called on " the government to investigate and ensure that the guilty be" brought to justice. " He also expects "a clear position" from the executive and "effective legislative initiatives" to eradicate religious extremism from Pakistani society, putting into practice "the necessary measures to stop misuse of the blasphemy law."

In a statement Archishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore and chairman of the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, has honoured the memory of Salman Taseer. Expressing "deep regret" and "sincere condolences" for the death of the governor, the Archbishop spoke of "the admiration and respect" of the Christian community for "his courageous position in favour of Asia Bibi" and his request to "repeal the law blasphemy. " His death, the bishop concludes, is a signal of growing religious fanaticism in Pakistan, a country that shows "zero tolerance" for the faithful of minorities or those who think differently.
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