Lahore Police arrested a group of 110 imams yesterday whilst celebrating the murder of Salman Taseer.
The arrest of the Islamic clerics took place on the sixth anniversary of the death of the Governor of Punjab,
who was "punished" because he had defended a Christian woman, Asia
Bibi, and had spoken out against the "black law" on blasphemy.
Speaking to AsiaNews, some activists slammed a climate of religious fanaticism and the country’s deep contradictions.
"On the one hand,” said Rana Kashif Javed, “the Government of Pakistan loudly expressed its intention of implementing the National Action Plan
and reiterated the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law;
on the other, religious extremists take to the streets and block the
capital of Punjab province, violating fundamental human rights."
According to the activist, "all this is a constant threat to our
The imams were detained and arrested on Main Boulevard Gulberg, where
they were staging a rally to celebrate the death of the murdered
governor. Their goal was to block the city and prevent the memorial
Defying the threats by radicals, activists and ordinary Pakistanis
gathered a few tens of kilometres away, in the Lalik Chowk area. Syeda
Deep, the organiser of the vigil, said that the participants waved
placards, chanted slogans and lit candles against terrorism and
"They came here,” she said, “despite the death threats and reiterated
that they would not be terrified by fear of the neo-fascist mullahs."
“In Lahore, religious intolerance has reached the highest levels,” said Samson Salamat, the Christian chairman of the Rawadari Tehreek, a movement for tolerance. “Islamists tried to block the memorial. This is ridiculous considering that Mumtaz Qadri, the Salman Taseer’s self-confessed murderer, was found guilty by the law and hanged."
“What the imams tried to do is a serious violation of freedom and
fundamental rights,” Salamat added. “What is even more serious is that
all this has happened event though the National Action Plan clearly
calls on the government and institutions to stop such activities."
Salamat believes that Pakistan "will not be a peaceful country until
the State itself does not take decisive action against militant groups
that commit 'hate crimes' and spread intolerance in society."
For Kashif Javed, Salman Taseer "was an honest ruler. The way his
family and other supporters – who defend the law, peace, tolerance and
equality – are targeted is unconstitutional."
Taseer’s son Shaan was recently the subject of a fatwa because he called for prayers for people unfairly accused of blasphemy.