Tens of thousands gather to mourn executed policeman seen as a HERO after he murdered a politician who wanted to reform Pakistan’s strict Islamic blasphemy laws
- Today thousands of Pakistanis gathered to mourn the death of a man executed for killing a reformist politician
- Mumtaz Qadri was put to death yesterday for the 2011 shooting of liberal Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer
- He claimed he was angry at the politician’s attempts to reform the country’s extremely strict blasphemy laws
- Today schools were closed and security increased in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, where Qadri’s funeral was held
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis have gathered for the funeral of a police officer who was executed yesterday for murdering a secular governor who wanted to reform the country’s blasphemy laws.
As a precaution against violence, authorities closed all schools and stepped up security in Islamabad and the adjacent city of Rawalpindi, where the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri was held.
Qadri, a former police bodyguard, shot liberal Punjab provincial governor Salman Taseer 28 times in Islamabad in 2011. He said he was angry at the politician’s calls to reform the blasphemy law.
Qadi’s coffin was carried through Rawalpindi today (pictured) before tens of thousands of supporters as they threw rose petals on its roof
Supporters of Qadri pray in unison during his public funeral in Rawalpindi, a city next to Islamabad
Qadri, who is considered a hero for killing the reformist politician, was loved by many of the country’s religious conservatives
Despite the fact the policeman shot a politician 28 times in 2011, thousands attended his funeral to worship him as a hero
People hold a photo of police officer Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed by the state of Pakistan yesterday.
Today roads around key government buildings and diplomatic compounds were also closed off, while Qadri’s supporters threw rose petals at the ambulance carrying his coffin through Rawalpindi.
Authorities put a gag order on local media covering the funeral, warning outlets in a letter they would face closure if their reporting ‘glorifies extremism’.
Meanwhile, footage posted on social media showed Qadri’s supporters jeering at Pakistani Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid at Karachi’s airport. One threw a shoe at the minister but he ducked.
Some supporters attacked a media crew, breaking at least one video camera.
Qadri’s hanging yesterday triggered street protests in several Pakistani cities as some religious and political leaders, and militant groups have publicly defended him.
He was executed for killing secular governor Salman Taseer who had called for reforms of the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.
Shortly after the attack, Qadri said he killed Governor Taseer because he had allegedly committed blasphemy by campaigning to change the laws and also in support of a jailed Christian woman accused of desecrating Islam’s holy book, the Koran.
Tens of thousands of Qadri’s supporters walked for miles to reach the funeral venue as police had blocked most of the roads for traffic.
Many chanted in support of Qadri while others carried posters with photographs of the former officer. One of those in the crowds, Ahmad Nadeem, wore a T-shirt with the painted logo: ‘I’m Mumtaz Qadri.’
Supporters of the Islamist political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam shout slogans during a protest in Peshawar following Qadri’s execution
Another similar protest was held by the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in the city of Lahore (pictured)
Supporters in Lahore chant slogans and wave flags following the former police guards hanging in Pakistan yesterday
Qadri was loved by many of the country’s conservatives eager to prevent a loosening of the country’s blashemy laws. Pictured are his supporters reading from the Koran in Peshawar
A supporter of the Islamic political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam reads from the Koran during the religious ceremony in Peshawar
‘I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same,’ he said.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws allow for anyone convicted of insulting Islam to be sentenced to death, though people often take the law into their own hands.
The January 2011 assassination horrified Pakistan’s relatively small liberal elite.
However, many Pakistanis, including some in the religious establishment and in legal circles, praised Qadri – a sign of the spread of Islamic fundamentalist thought in the South Asian nation.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty after a Taliban school attack in December 2014 and has executed more than 300 convicts since then.
The government has also taken measures against extremism, introducing a ban on hate speech, abuse of mosques, as well as media blackout on militant groups.
Islamabad has also promised to improve security for minority groups and upgrade legislations on individual rights and women’s rights.
Mourners covered the ambulance carrying Qadri’s body with red rose petals as it made its way past them
The ceremony attracted tens of thousands of mourners who are opposed to any reformation of the country’s blasphemy laws
Pakistani supporters of convicted murderer Mumtaz Qadri shout slogans prior his funeral prayers in Rawalpindi
Mourners line any available space in the public square as an ambulance carrying Qadri’s body makes it way through the crowds