News / Asia

    Thousands in Pakistan Attend Funeral of Convicted Murderer

    People hold the photo of police officer Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor, during his funeral, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
    People hold the photo of police officer Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of a former governor, during his funeral, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
    Ayesha Tanzeem

    Tens of thousands of people in Pakistan Tuesday attended the funeral of a man executed a day earlier for the killing in 2011 of a powerful politician who criticized the country's blasphemy laws.

    Funeral prayers for Mumtaz Qadri were held in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh park, the same place where former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007.
     
    The crowd carried the body more than 20 kilometers to bury it in a place called Bhara Kahu, near Islamabad, the nation's capital.  All roads leading to Islamabad were blocked for traffic with heavy shipping containers guarded by police in riot gear.
     
    Schools and most marketplaces in Rawalpindi were closed for the day.
     
    Earlier, the crowd chanted slogans in favor of Qadri and against the government and judiciary.  His supporters hailed him as a hero and a defender of the faith.

    The head of the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan, Maulana Mohammad Shirani, however, said Monday that Qadri was punished for taking the law into his own hands.
     
    “No one is above the law,” Shirani told journalists.
     
    Anti-media sentiment seemed high among the crowd Tuesday, possibly due to muted coverage of protests over Qadri’s hanging.
     

    A supporter of a religious political party holds a banner of convicted killer Mumtaz Qadri during a demonstration against Qadri's sentence, in Karachi, Pakistan, March 9, 2015.
    A supporter of a religious political party holds a banner of convicted killer Mumtaz Qadri during a demonstration against Qadri's sentence, in Karachi, Pakistan, March 9, 2015.

    Qadri supporters had beaten up some members of the media, including a Reuters cameraman, on Monday and smashed his equipment.  Anticipating further violence directed toward them Tuesday, both local and foreign electronic media mostly stayed away from the funeral.  No television cameras could be seen on site in a country where such crowds are usually covered live by multiple stations.
     
    Qadri, who worked for the elite unit of the police and was on duty to guard the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, shot him almost 30 times outside a popular market in Islamabad.  When Qadri arrived at court to stand trial in Taseer's death, he was showered with rose petals by lawyers who offered to take his case for free.

    Taseer was a vocal supporter of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy.  He wanted the country's blasphemy laws amended.
     
    A few weeks after Taseer was killed, another politician, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down.  Bhatti also advocated reforming the blasphemy laws.

    Human rights activists have long complained that the blasphemy laws are abused to settle personal scores or land disputes.  People accused of blasphemy, they say, often do not get a fair trial because lower court judges are afraid to rule in their favor.
     
    An accusation of blasphemy is considered a de-facto death sentence in Pakistan.  At least 65 people have been murdered in connection with blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to the Center for Research and Security Studies and a tally by the Reuters news agency.
     
    Qadri’s execution, however, shows the government is toughening its stance on hardliners carrying out vigilante justice.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ShakeyRider from: Texas, USA
    March 02, 2016 4:32 PM
    I was personally there when the brutal murder had taken place at the market and it was a Terrorist Attack plain and simple. The guards for this politician conspired to kill the only Christian Law Maker on the PAK General Assembly. It was a sick and revolting act of violence against Christianity.

    by: Jasmine S. from: USA
    March 02, 2016 3:45 PM
    Islam is ruining the middle east, I have non-muslim family there and it's just getting more dangerous. I worry for them. Religion should have no place in politics.

    by: siddiq from: angola
    March 02, 2016 8:11 AM
    Nawaz sheriff has made many mistakes in his past and now has started making mistakes again, he does not care about people of his own country, he knows that Pakistanis have nothing to do with terrorism on the other hand Pakistanis are suffering in the hands of terrorists more than any other country, these terrorists are being funded within inside and from outside. Islam does not teach terrorism, but, if Nawaz Sheriff continues the way he is doing now perhaps he will not be able to complete his term and the people of pakistan will not accept ruler who is against Islam, where was the court when salman taseer started talking nonsese.

    by: Mohamad from: copenhagan
    March 02, 2016 7:04 AM
    Kudos to Gen Raheel, Judiciary& administration!What took them so long....
    In Response

    by: ismail from: mohammad
    March 02, 2016 11:23 AM
    I don't like Nawaz sharif but he did right move to hang the murders Islam prohibit to kill any body with out confirming what he did and he was employs he took oath to protect not to kill and Muhammad pbuh never punish any body none muslim he protect them he is only one person born in this earth with honesty no body will come like him we love our prophet he never told us to kill any body

    by: Noman Daud from: Mansehra, Pakistan
    March 02, 2016 4:35 AM
    What about Remand devis?“No one is above the law,” wasn't he??

    by: Anonymous
    March 02, 2016 3:50 AM
    One buried. Thousands can be seen in this picture.

    by: MUHAMMAD FURQAN IJAZ from: Napakistan
    March 02, 2016 1:28 AM
    God,s curse on Nawaz Sharif, Raheel Sharif and so called Chief Justice. May ALLAH ALMIGHTY ruin all these. Amen.
    In Response

    by: cire73 from: USA
    March 02, 2016 8:02 AM
    in civilized countries, the governments don't have laws to kill people for "crimes" that simply involve belief or picking ones religion or lack there of. It is hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that thousands revere the killer of a politician who simply did not want the law to have people killed for blasphemy. The strong belief that blasphemers must be killed is a reason many in successful countries fear the religion that commands it

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