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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Death of a Muslim Governor

For some reason, it appears not to have been mentioned on the early evening TV news programme that I watched, so I am grateful for the radio programme to which I listened on my way home from the gym. 
The news items was that the Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, had been gunned down by one of his own bodyguards as he stepped from his car in Islamabad's Kohsar market, a favoured haunt of westerners and wealthy Pakistanis.

Reports claim that the reason for the assassination was Governor Taseed's support for the repeal (or, at least, amendment) of Pakistan's notorious blasphemy laws - laws which, as regular readers of this blog will be aware, are (ab)used indiscriminately to settle old scores and grudges against any of the minority groups in that country (and even against fellow-Muslims!).

The assassination raises some interesting questions.  The Governor had a detail of bodyguards, yet it would appear that the murderer was able to shoot his victim at least nine times, and then quietly drop his weapon and surrender.  One is obliged to ask why the other bodyguards did not intervene, and possibly save the Governor's life?  Was the murderer just one of a larger group, any of whom might have been chosen for this dastardly deed?

The question of the vetting of bodyguards also arises.  How could it be that this man's extremist views could have gone un-noticed?  Was no-one aware that he was so opposed to the stand taken by the Governor - who had even publicly visited Asia Bibi, the Christian woman currently under sentence of death for alleged blasphemy against the Islamic prophet, Muhammad?  Mind you, since a Muslim would be the first to insist that Muhammad neither was, nor is, divine; and since blasphemy is a vocal insult against God; one wonders how Islamic nations manage to square that particular circle!!

To the best of my knowledge, Governor Taseed was a devout (albeit, enlightened) Muslim, but I am thankful for his outspoken criticism of the blasphemy laws - criticism that has now cost him his life.  I pray that his family will find peace; that his country will act justly; that his legacy will be the repeal of those very laws that he realised are so draconian.

I also pray for Shahbaz Bhatti - the government minister for minorities - who is under constant threat of death for his own attempts to have those blaspehemy laws repealed.  And I pray against the extremism, and fanaticism, of those who seem to believe that the only answer to those who disagree with them is destruction, devastation, and death.

I invite you to join with me.

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