How many people, on the other hand, have rallied in support of Salman Taseer and against the blasphemy laws? Why, none. Yet we are constantly assured that the “extremists” are only a “tiny minority,” while the vaunted Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims never seems to be able to manifest its presence.
“Pakistanis rally as killer of governor appeals,” MENAFN, February 8, 2015:
(MENAFN – Arab News) ISLAMABAD: A former Pakistan police bodyguard appealed Tuesday against his death sentence for murdering a provincial governor who sought reform of blasphemy laws as hundreds rallied outside the court to show support.
Mumtaz Qadri was sentenced for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer outside an upmarket coffee shop in Islamabad in 2011.
Qadri has admitted shooting Taseer saying he objected to the politician’s calls to reform strict blasphemy laws which can carry the death penalty.
Around 300 of Qadri’s supporters chanted slogans calling for his release as a two-judge bench at Islamabad High Court began hearing the appeal.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Muslim Pakistan. Qadri has been hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out any calls to soften the legislation.
At his original trial Qadri was showered with rose petals by some lawyers. His current appeal team features two judges including the former chief justice of Lahore High Court.
Outside the court protesters wearing shirts with the logo of religious movement Pakistan Sunni Tehreek shouted ‘The lock of the prison will break Qadri will be released!’ and ‘Be ashamed release Qadri!’
Malik Muhammad Safeer Qadri’s brother urged his release.
‘My brother has done nothing wrong. He is happy and satisfied in the prison and always prays to God. Salman Taseer was killed because he committed blasphemy’ he said.
Defense lawyers said they expect the appeal to be decided within weeks.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on executions in terror cases in December after Taleban gunmen massacred 150 people at a school.
But executing someone convicted of murdering a ‘blasphemer’ would risk a backlash from hard-line religious groups and even more moderate public opinion.
After Qadri was convicted in 2011 dozens of furious lawyers ransacked the courtroom of the judge who had sentenced him to death.