Skip to main content

The Murder of a Muslim Moderate

Nina Shea & Paul Marshall

In yet another bloody blow to the forces of moderation in the Muslim world, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has been assassinated by a member of his elite security guard in Islamabad. Governor Taseer, a prominent member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was killed because he openly opposed the country’s draconian blasphemy law and called for the pardon of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death under the section 295c of the law by a Pakistani court in November.

Christians, Ahmadiyas, and other minorities constitute half of those accused under the blasphemy laws, even though they are only 5 percent of the population. Since their testimony counts for less than that of a Muslim in the country’s sharia courts, they can be convicted solely on the basis of the testimony of one or more Muslim accusers, and the law is very often used to settle personal grievances. Bibi’s case follows this pattern. Taseer, himself a Muslim, had called the blasphemy law a “black law” because of the many abuses it gives rise to. He was one of the few officials brave enough to speak out in the face of angry protest by the law’s Islamist supporters.

Within the United Nations, Pakistan has led an annual effort to promote an international blasphemy law, called an “anti-defamation” law, to protect Islam. Taseer’s murder is an important victory for extremism and should be recognized as such by U.S. policy makers.

Related Articles

Why the Trump Administration Should Support an Independent Kurdistan

Lee Smith

For starters, it would be a step in undoing Obama's disastrous pro-Iran policies...

Continue Reading

South Asia’s Human Capital Crisis

Aparna Pande

The majority of the population in this region is under the age of 21 years, which could be asset with proper education and training...

Continue Reading

Rising Threat to Christians in Iran

Lela Gilbert

Lela Gilbert on Religious Persecution in the Islamic Republic...

Continue Reading