Islamabad, Pakistan – The execution of a governor’s killer, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, has triggered several protests across the country from some religious and political leaders who publicly defend Qadri. Authorities remain alert for the possibility of violence and escalating protest in the next days.

Qadri was hanged at 4:30 a.m on Monday at the Adiala Jail, a high-security prison in Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital, Islamabad. Security forces have been put on alert in major cities across the country, as reported by the New York Times.

Mumtaz Quadri. Photo: REUTERS
Mumtaz Quadri. Photo: REUTERS

Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab province at the time of his assassination, was campaigning for changes in the blasphemy laws –which he and other critics believe have been used to persecute religious minorities. These laws are basically a death sentence for those who insult the Islam or the prophet Muhammad.

Taseer’s assassination occurred in 2011, when Qadri took advantage of his access to him, at the time he was his bodyguard, and shot Taseer 27 times in the back. Qadri confessed immediately the murder and proudly admitted that the governor has been kill specifically for his stance on blasphemy.

Still supported and considered a hero by many, Qadri was sentenced to death that year, which led to the ruling judge to leave the country due to many death threats, according to Reuters. Lawyers and supporters constantly showered him with rose petals during his court appearances.

After his many appeals, in October 2015, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, and more recently, a request for mercy he had made to President Mamnoon Hussain was rejected living the ruling to continue its course.

Qadri’s street supporters and a large part of Pakistani society believe that the fact that Taseer was suggesting any change in the law was a blasphemy itself.

“Long live the martyr Mumtaz Qadri”

On Monday, his body was brought to his home and the narrow streets of the neighborhood were filled with people chanting and wishing long live to Qadri. Plans to hold funeral prayers services have been announced by religious parties on Tuesday afternoon. Officials believed that the risk of violence that day was high.

“The execution of Mumtaz Qadri indicates the resolve of the Pakistani state to reverse the tide of extremism that has gripped the country for decades,” commented Raza Rumi, a member of the visiting faculty at Ithaca College in New York and a consulting editor of The Friday Times, a Pakistani weekly.

Rumi said that in a narrow sense justice has been delivered, but that the Pakistan’s Parliament would have to think beyond the death penalty and institute measures which inhibit the creation of people like Qadri. He assures that is time to revisit blasphemy laws.

Source: The New York Times