An outpouring of support shown for the recently executed Mumtaz Qadri may delay Asia Bibi’s appeal in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Last week, Qadri, the self confessed killer of Salman Taseer, was executed after his sentence was confirmed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Following the announcement of his execution, supporters of Qadri poured into the streets of Pakistan’s major cities and protested. Many claim that Qadri was not guilty because he was defending the honor of Islam when he killed Taseer, who had championed Bibi’s case in 2010. This outpouring of support for a self confessed killer has likely shown the government of Pakistan that the country is not ready to truly try Bibi fairly and release her from prison.
3/7/2016 Pakistan (Daily Beast) – Asia Bibi is a defenseless Pakistani Christian woman who was maliciously accused of “blasphemy” by her Muslim neighbors. They did this to settle a score after she committed the other “crime,” as a non-Muslim, of drinking water from the same cup as them. Asia was sentenced by Pakistan’s courts to death by hanging in 2010. She languishes in jail awaiting execution until this day. So far, so obscene.
Five years ago, Asia must have thought she had been given a lifeline. Imagine the delight felt by this powerless woman—for Christians are a tiny and discriminated against minority in Pakistan—when the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the flamboyant secular Muslim, Salmaan Taseer, publicly took up her case. With such a high-profile champion, Asia would have been forgiven for thinking that her savior had arrived and that she would soon be freed.
The world reeled in shock at what happened next.
Pakistan’s mullah mafia proved stronger than the governor of Punjab.
In 2011 Salmaan Taseer was gunned down by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, who brutally pumped nine bullets into the body of the man he mercilessly betrayed.
Salmaan’s “crime” was to campaign publicly in defense of Asia, and for a change to Pakistan’s archaic blasphemy laws.
Qadri came to be regarded as a hero by many Barelwi Pakistani Sufi Muslims for “defending” the “honor” of the Prophet Muhammad. And as if to rub acid into the wounds, the assassin was showered with rose petals as he walked to his trial through spontaneous rallies held in his support.
But last week, Qadri finally was executed by the state of Pakistan for his crime. Placing my personal rejection of the death sentence for criminals such as Qadri to one side, the case of Salmaan Taseer should now have been considered closed.
Far from it.
Tens of thousands of Pakistani Muslims joined Qadri’s funeral procession to mourn his death, and to hail him as a martyr.
Aside from how much harder this makes it to imagine the liberation of Asia Bibi from her imprisonment for the thought-crime of “blasphemy,” what this says about the psychological state of the Pakistani nation—and my own Pakistani Muslim heritage—is deeply depressing.
Blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s blasphemer is another person’s liberator. Arbitrary pronouncements of blasphemy are about as valuable as arbitrary pronouncements of beauty. Killing anyone over such an assumption-laden charge is as absurd as killing someone because they’re “ugly.” It simply makes no sense.
Yet millions of people across the world, many of them Muslim, are still prepared to justify this obscene and simplistic mindset by sympathizing with murderers who kill in the name of heresy.
Even in the UK, the reaction has been difficult to comprehend.
Previously, a quarter of my fellow British Muslims have expressed sympathy with the terrorists who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. And now, certain Muslim religious and community “leaders,” who position themselves as anti-ISIS and “mainstream,” have come out publicly praising Qadri as a hero.
One of Europe’s largest mosques, the Barelwi Sufi managed Ghamkol Sharif in Birmingham, UK, held a wake “in honor of the lover of the Prophet, Warrior Mumtaz Qadri, the martyr.”