Assassination shows extremists' sway

Jan. 5, 2011 at 7:49 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The assassination of Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer is another example of the determination of religious extremists in Pakistan, experts said.

"This shows how the religious extremists want to impose their agenda to terrorize the society," Pakistani Minorities Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti told The Washington Post.

Taseer, one of the most liberal leaders to speak out against the country's harsh blasphemy laws and in support of women and religious minorities, was shot and killed Tuesday in Islamabad allegedly by his own security guard for his liberal views. The alleged assassin was reported to have said his action was prompted by Taseer's stance against the blasphemy law, which makes it a crime punishable by death to speak against Islam, the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.

Taseer's killing was the most prominent political assassination since the slaying three years ago of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, wife of current President Asif Ali Zardari.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws drew world attention recently after a Christian woman, accused of criticizing the prophet, was sentenced to death. The woman currently remains in jail

The Post report said while Taseer's death dominated news reports, supporters of the alleged assassin set up a Facebook page, where he was called a "hero" and lauded for his "awesome job."

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