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

Iraq's Fight Against ISIS

Michael Pregent

Michael Pregent talked about the next steps for Iraq in the war against ISIL as Iraqi troops worked to retake the city of Fallujah and following repor...

Watch Now

40 Years after Entebbe - An Interview with Iddo Netanyahu

Lela Gilbert

An interview with Iddo Netanyahu about his brother Yoni, who commanded the elite Sayeret Matkal unit during Operation Entebbe....

Continue Reading

How Douglas MacArthur Would Have Responded to ISIS Terror Attacks

Arthur Herman

The massacres in Orlando, Istanbul and Dhaka demonstrate what happens when we disregard MacArthur's advice: "There is no substitute for victory."...

Continue Reading