Moderate provincial governor Salman Taseer was murdered this week by one of his bodyguards.
His killer was showered with rose petals as he appeared in court today.
Mumtaz Qadri, center, the accused killer of Punjab’s Gov. Salman Taseer, arrives at court, in Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. More than 500 Muslim scholars praised the man suspected of killing a Pakistani governor because the politician opposed blasphemy laws that mandate death for those convicted of insulting Islam. The group of scholars and clerics known as Jamat Ahle Sunnat is affiliated with a moderate school of Islam and represents the mainstream Barelvi sect. The group said in a statement Wednesday that no one should pray for Taseer or express regret for his murder. (AP/B.K.Bangash)
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The increasing radicalization of Pakistani society was laid bare Wednesday when the nation’s mainstream religious organizations applauded the murder of provincial governor Salman Taseer earlier this week, while his killer was showered with rose petals as he appeared in court.
Taseer, 66, the governor of Punjab, the country’s most heavily populated province, was assassinated Tuesday by one of his police bodyguards after Taseer had campaigned to ease Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Religious groups threatened to kill others who questioned the blasphemy statute, which is designed to protect Islam and the Prophet Muhammad from “insult.”
Pakistan is a key partner for the U.S. in the global fight against terrorism but waves of fundamentalism have produced an increasingly intolerant and anti-American country, making the alliance with Washington hugely unpopular.