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.
In November a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to be executed under the law for having defended her faith from insults by Muslims in the same state.
[…]While the Pakistani government denounced the murder, a group of 500 Muslim scholars issued an explicit statement endorsing the killing of Taseer. During initial court hearings Qadri was kissed and showered with flower petals by numerous supporters.
“We pay rich tributes and salute the bravery, valor and faith of Mumtaz Qadri,” declared the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat group in a statement issued to the press. They added that “there should be no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the Prophet are themselves indulging in blasphemy.”
Extremist Islamic groups have held a national strike to protest the proposed repeal of the law, even though Pakistan’s ruling party has renounced plans to do so. The groups have also demanded the execution of Bibi, who was arrested in 2009 after defending her faith against Muslim women who she said were taunting her for her Christianity. She denies having insulted Mohammed.
Meanwhile, Iran is rounding up Christian leaders.
Iranian state television said Wednesday that leaders of the country’s Christian minority have been arrested and accused of spreading a hard-line version of their faith.
The report did not give the number of people arrested. The group was promoting hard-line Christian views at cultural gatherings with the support of Britain, the TV reported, quoting Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon. It did not elaborate.
Tamadon was quoted as calling the group “a corrupt and deviant current.”
A website of Iran’s political opposition reported that 60 Christians have been arrested since Christmas, including a priest taken into custody on Friday.
The Sahamnews.org website said the priest, Leonard Keshishian, was summoned by security authorities in the central city of Isfahan and arrested.
It gave no further details or a reason for the arrests.
Where is Obama? Does he have anything to say about this? Shouldn’t the supposed leader of the free world have something to say about this?
Maybe he is too busy playing golf… in only TWO YEARS he has played twice as many rounds of golf as George W. Bush played in EIGHT YEARS.