Pakistan Salman Taseer murder: Thousands mourn at Mumtaz Qadri funeral


Source: BBC

The funeral is taking place in Pakistan of the former bodyguard executed for killing Punjab’s governor over his opposition to blasphemy laws.

Security was tight as about 50,000 mourners gathered to pay their last respects to Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi.

Qadri was hailed as a hero by Islamists for the 2011 killing of Salman Taseer, who wanted to reform the strict laws.

Thousands of police are deployed along the route of the funeral procession and in the nearby capital, Islamabad.

Qadri supporters threw rose petals on his coffin, Reuters reports from Liaquat Bagh park where the funeral was being held.

His execution on Monday prompted protesters to take to the streets in cities in Pakistan.

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a bodyguard who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer, is photographed after being detained at the site of Taseer's shooting in Islamabad, in this 4 January 2011 file pictureImage copyrightReuters
Image captionMumtaz Qadri was hailed as a hero by some Islamist groups
Supporters of Islamic political party Jamat-e-Islami shout slogans during a protest after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, an ex-police guard who had in January 2011 killed a former governor for opposing the country's blasphemy laws, in Peshawar, Pakistan, 29 February 2016.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionProtests took place on Monday in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities
Protestors block a road linking to Islamabad, to protest the execution of former police guard Mumtaz Qadri, after he was hanged to death in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 29 February 2016.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThis road into Islamabad was blocked by Qadri supporters on Monday

What are Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

But the rallies in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad were mostly peaceful. Demonstrators burned tyres and chanted slogans, as well blocking some roads into Islamabad.

Heightened security: Ilyas Khan, BBC News, at the scene in Islamabad

Islamabad is unusually quiet this morning. Schools are shut, most markets are likely to remain closed, and lawyers are observing a strike. Authorities have placed shipping containers on roads to seal the Red Zone, where government buildings are located.

Neighbouring Rawalpindi, where the burial will take place, is largely off-limits for commuters, especially areas around the venue.

There is heightened security in all major cities and towns. The authorities in Karachi have banned pillion-riding on motorbikes until Friday to prevent drive-by attacks.

Large crowds are expected to pour in for the funeral. The tempo is being built up by religious groups, including the mainstream Jamaat-e-Islami party which termed Monday, the day of Qadri’s hanging, as the “black day” and announced daily protests until Friday.

But fear of violence is not as acute as one would have expected some years ago. Monday’s protests did not attract large crowds and protesters did not show a willingness to take on the security personnel manning the cordons.

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