Paki savages find hope in Islam

Forget about the hijacker. Its just a distraction from the jihad.

Thousands of Paki savages rally to make the assassin of a Christian into a hero:

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They shout “God is great” “Allah is greater”  and “Mumtaz Qadri is our hero”.

Qadri was executed for killing the outspoken Pakistani politician Salman Taseer because the politician defended a Christian woman accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. Qadri, a police officer, was sent to guard the politician. Instead he shot him in cold blood. (Full post below the fold)

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The glaring hate of Pakistan’s ignored

Widespread support for Mumtaz Qadri is reflective of the powerful political voice of religious groups in Pakistan.

Al Jizz

They gather in the streets of the capital and only the colour of their clothing seems to be different. These men, and they are all men, are all aged between 15 and 50.

They wear the traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez and beards sprout from their faces with an old-fashioned topi, a hat atop their heads. But it is the eyes that really give them away. Each one I meet glares at me with anger and hate.

These men are Pakistan’s ignored. They work the lowest paid jobs, if they have jobs. They spend their time between the madrassas, the religious schools, or their homes.

Not for them the glitz of Pakistani fashion and music. They do not live the lifestyles of the fabulous that advertisers pump out relentlessly on the myriad news channels that dominate the media landscape.

But they do have one thing, one thing that gives them hope. One thing that gives them power, that lifts them out of poverty and allows them a voice. That thing is religion. As they file past me they shout “God is great” and “Mumtaz Qadri is our hero”.

Qadri was executed for killing the outspoken Pakistani politician Salman Taseer because the politician defended a Christian woman accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. Qadri, a police officer, was sent to guard the politician. Instead he shot him in cold blood.

One of them gives his name as Mohammed, but I can tell this is not his name. He says to me that he will never allow his prophet to be insulted. In broken Urdu he says: “I will kill anyone who insults my religious beliefs and my beloved prophet.”

You can tell in his eyes that the intent, if not the action, is serious. What Mohammed and his fellow protesters have achieved in the capital is unprecedented.

The ringleaders of the protest have harnessed the anger and energy of these men and built them into a force to push their own agenda.

It is breathtaking in its simplicity and effectiveness. By building a network across mosques and schools, the hardline religious groups have bought themselves a powerful political voice for their demands to bring Pakistan under their influence and enforce hardline religious rule.

It is unlikely that the government will accept their demands, which include execution of anyone accused of blasphemy and turning Qadri into an official national martyr. But that voice, those demands have been heard across the nation.

In the capital I am glared at by the men. I have seen that look and that hatred in men’s eyes before. As a teenager in the UK I was caught up in a rally held by extreme right-wing nationalists.

They also had a uniform. Bald heads and green bomber jackets identified them. As I walked by I saw their eyes twisted with hate. Once again it was the leaders of those groups that had built them into a movement. Anger is a powerful tool for those that can manipulate it.

Whether it is Europe or South Asia, these groups are used as tools. I say to Mohammmed that his leaders have lied to him about religion and his passion for his prophet, honourable though it is, is being used by his leaders for politics, not religion. His answer does not surprise me.

“We are a nation of sinners. Our leaders will rise and we will kill those who blaspheme and insult our prophet. I am ready to die for my cause. Are you?”

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Hanging revives Pakistan capital punishment debate

Execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, prompts muted celebration and protests.

Al Jazeera 

A nationwide strike has been called on Tuesday by Qadri's supporters [Reuters]

A nationwide strike has been called on Tuesday by Qadri’s supporters [Reuters]

The execution of a man who killed the head of government of Punjab province over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws has revived the question of capital punishment in Pakistan.

Mumtaz Qadri was a bodyguard for Salman Taseer when he shot the Punjab governor dead in Islamabad in 2011.

After his arrest, he told police he had assassinated Taseer because he championed the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death in a blasphemy case that arose out of a personal dispute.

Taseer had said the law was being misused and should be reformed.

Considering him a hero for defending Islam, Qadri’s supporters took to the streets of Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi following his hanging early on Monday morning.

Celebration and protests

While there were protests in big numbers – and an equal amount of muted celebration – the hanging prompted an outcry from various quarters that called for a moratorium on executions “as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty”.

Champa Patel, director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office, said: “Taseer was a brave voice for religious tolerance in Pakistan and his murderer should be brought to justice, but carrying out more killings is a deplorable way to honour Taseer’s life and message.

“The death penalty is always a human rights violation, regardless of the circumstances or nature of the crime.

Earlier, Qadri‘s attorney said his client told him he had no regrets for killing Taseer.

“I have met him twice in jail. He said that even if God gave me 50 million lives, I would still sacrifice all of them,” lawyer Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry said.

Protesters briefly blocked the main road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday after news of the hanging broke.

Qadri’s supporters had been calling for his release ever since his arrest in 2011 [Reuters]

Police later dispersed them and closed off the road to prevent more demonstrations.

Chaudhry predicted larger demonstrations as a nationwide strike on Tuesday has been called by Qadri’s supporters to protest against the hanging.

Late in 2011, an anti-terrorism court handed down a double death sentence to Qadri for murder and terrorism. The sentence was appealed and upheld by the Supreme Court late last year.

Jibran Nasir, a Pakistan lawyer and activist, says the country needs to unite on the issue of blasphemy laws instead of it becoming a war between Qadri’s fans and Taseer’s fans.

“I won’t call anybody’s death good news but the hanging has made a claim that when the state is challenged, it would enforce its laws,” Nasir told Al Jazeera from Karachi.

“Qadri’s was a terrorist act and the Supreme Court upheld that. But when we see people celebrating or protesting, those are fringe elements. We’re not talking about the liberals, moderates or even progressives here.

“What we need to remember is that Qadri was made this glorified poster boy of this huge problem. He was just the trigger, a foot soldier and the ones he was influenced by and looked up to are still roaming around freely.”

No media coverage

National media played down news of the execution and the protests on orders of the government, two senior TV news anchors told AFP news agency.

There was no coverage of crowds of angry Qadri supporters who flocked to pay their respects at his family’s house in Rawalpindi where his body was laid out on a bed, his head surrounded by roses.

Talk to Al Jazeera – Paul Bhatti: Pakistan’s religious divide

The funeral is expected to be held on Tuesday.

“I have no regrets,” Qadri’s brother Malik Abid told AFP, tears rolling down his cheeks, while women chanted nearby.

He said the family had been called to the prison on Sunday evening by officials who said Qadri was unwell.

But when they arrived, Qadri greeted them with the news that authorities had deceived them and that his execution was imminent.

“I am proud of the martyrdom of my son,” Qadri’s father Bashir Awan told AFP, adding he was ready to sacrifice all five of his other sons “for the honour of the prophet”.

Nasir, the lawyer, cautioned against making Qadri a hero in death, saying that by the show of affection on the streets, the common man is likely to be impressed by his actions.

“Qadri was showered with petals, sent cards on Valentine’s Day, called a warrior before his death and a martyr after his hanging,” he said.

“We should not make him a celebrity and not give him unnecessary coverage.”

More than 100 people are charged with blasphemy each year in predominantly Muslim Pakistan, many of them Christians and other minorities.

Conviction of blasphemy carries a death sentence. No one has yet been hanged, but those convicted languish in prison.

With additional reporting by Faras Ghani: @farasG

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

“While it is positive that the government is committed to tackling religious extremism and is taking proactive steps to ensure perpetrators of violence are brought to justice, carrying out yet more killings only continues the cycle of violence.”