UCAN REPORT- Christians in Pakistan are hailing assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer as their “hero.”
“We strongly condemn the killing of Taseer and salute his courage and struggle for justice and peace in the country,” said Sumaira Shafique, general secretary of Pakistan’s Christian Lawyers Association.
“Though a Muslim, Taseer gave his life for a just cause and has become a hero to the Christian community,” he said.
Shafique was speaking during a Jan. 6 visit to Taseer’s grave at the Military Martyr’s cemetery in Lahore.
Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, National Director of the Catholic Bishop’s National Commission for Justice and Peace laid a floral tribute on Taseer’s grave and prayed for him and his family.
Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province, was gunned down on Jan. 4 in Islamabad.
His bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, told police he killed Taseer for criticizing the country’s blasphemy laws.
But there are many who believe Taseer’s killing was part of a wider plot.
|Road leading to the slain governor’s home in Lahore, now guarded by security personnel|
“We urge the government to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to justice,” Father Mani said in a statement.
“Moreover, we strongly recommend the government take a clear stance and strong legislative measures for the eradication of religious extremism in Pakistani society … and take necessary measures to stop the misuse of blasphemy laws,” he continued.
Earlier, following Taseer’s funeral on Jan. 5, a candlelight vigil was held for Taseer at the press club in Karachi.
“Citizens for Democracy,” a newly formed alliance of pro civil-liberty and human rights groups organized the event.
There, hundreds of activists hailed Taseer as a “martyr in the fight against blasphemy laws” and demanded the arrest of those issuing fatwas against politicians struggling to end the controversial laws.