Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 7, 2011 / 00:15 am
Assassinated Pakistani Gov. Salman Taseer was a “staunch defender” of the rights of minorities and stood up to extremist groups, the Catholic Archbishop of Lahore said Jan. 6. The archbishop decried the mindset of “religious fanaticism” in the country and warned that its extremists are winning.
“Christians are deeply shocked and disturbed by the death of a high profile leader,” Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha said in a Jan. 6 CNA interview. “Salman Taseer broke no law but he only questioned the validity of the present law, calling it a ‘man-made law’ which could be changed. For that he was killed.”
The Jan. 4 shooting of Gov. Taseer, who headed Punjab state, came at the hands of a bodyguard reportedly angered over the governor’s opposition to the country’s strict anti-blasphemy law. The governor had sought a pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been sentenced to death under the law on what her lawyers say are fabricated charges.
On Jan. 6 a group of lawyers, religious leaders, and other supporters welcomed the accused murderer at the courts, with some showering him with rose petals and placing a garland around his neck. This reception, the archbishop said, was “shameful” and “indicative of the mindset of religious fanaticism prevailing in Pakistan today.”