Protests and riots have broken out across Pakistan following the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri a former Police Officer who ruthlessly machine-gunned former Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer in the back several times on January 4th 2011.
Mr. Qadri never repented of his crime stating it was retaliation for the vocal opposition of the ‘holy’ blasphemy laws of Pakistan and Governor Taseer’s support for freedom for Asia Bibi, who Mr. Qadri refers to as a kaffir (infidel) and blasphemer.
The lawful hanging of Mr. Qadri took place at 4.30am (9.30 in Pakistan) at Adyala Jail in the city of Rawalpindi. The family of Mr. Qadri were secretly ushered to the jail during Sunday evening under pretext that he was ill, in an attempt to prevent mass hysteria. A media blackout was also in place preventing the news reaching supporters of Mr. Qadri during the tense early moments after his death.
The Muslim legal fraternity of Pakistan on hearing about Mr. Qadri’s hanging immediately declared a one day strike. This was later matched by a call for national protests in support of a Muslim Hero and martyr, by the leader of Sunni Tehreek a Muslim political wing of the Barelvi sect of Islam.
Mr. Sarwart Ijaz Qadri called for roads to be blocked and tyres to be burnt. However, during the riots that have ensued, shops have been attacked and those buses attempting to complete their journeys have been attacked and burnt. In many districts shops have remained shut and across the country schools have remained closed while security forces who are extremely stretched work towards restoring peace.
Mumtaz Qadri is held in high esteem by the growing number of conservative Muslims in Pakistan. He made history when he received the largest number of Valentines cards of any Pakistani during a court hearing on February 14th 2011. During the hearing he was garlanded with flowers and praises were sung about his killing of Governor Taseer and returning honour to Islam. The judge who initially ruled the guilty verdict in the case of Mumtaz Qadri was forced to flee the country, as he was targeted by death threats.
A mosque in Islamabad was named after Mumtaz Qadri and as a consequence rapidly grew to double its original size (click here)
Christian communities have locked their homes with families hidden safely inside, other Christians have travelled to families in more rural regions, hoping to escape the furore and rioting in the cities. Every Christian, our officer Shamim Masih has spoken with, has expressed their fear that their homes will be burnt down in retaliation for the hanging of Mr. Qadri.
Shamim Masih said:
“The Christians of Pakistan are in great fear and want the Government to ensure their safety. Threats have already been made to Christian communities
and those who have fled their homes to escape to more rural areas will no doubt return to find their homes have been looted. Christians remember the
attacks on the communities of Shati Nagar, Gojra and St Joseph’s colony where mob violence resulted in loss of lives, homes and churches. They also
remember the recent bomb attacks in Peshawar and Lahore, they do not believe extremist and conservative Muslims need much of a reason to attack them
and feel the current climate is creating great animosity towards them.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
“What chance do Christians have for survival in a nation that openly places hero status on murderers? Mumtaz Qadri was involved in the heinous murder
of Governor Taseer, an act that traumatised Pakistan and brought to light the extent of extremism and hatred towards minorities in Pakistan. This man
enjoyed privileges whilst in Pakistani prisons that few obtain and was able to spread his evil ideology within prison often coercing wardens to punish
those involved in blasphemy cases – which contributed to the death of a British Prisoner. Most alarmingly the legal fraternity of Pakistan have come
out in support for Mr. Qadri and declared a one day strike, an act that is a clear indictment of the extremism that is ubiquitous throughout all tiers
of Pakistani Muslim society. The few voices of liberality in Pakistan will have an uphill struggle making the nation one that is egalitarian, yet in
the meanwhile western nations including Britain have deduced that Christians in Pakistan rarely face persecution, a judgment that has led to the re-persecution
of thousands of Pak-Christians stranded in Thailand.”
“Pakistan’s current government should be commended for their efforts towards upholding justice in this landmark judicial process. Whatever one thinks
of death sentences, it is the prevailing law in Pakistan and to bring it to fruition in this manner has been a brave decision. The hanging of Mumtaz
Qadri illustrates that justice is achievable. The terrorists can no longer hide behind their faith and public support and the former impunity has been
We spoke to several Christians in Rawalpindi and Islamabad about how they felt. Here is what they said:
Kaneez Bibi said:
“I work as a beautician but I did not go into work today. Our bosses told us to stay at home as they are not opening their businesses due to threats
of violence. My family and I are bunkering down at our home and it is very frightening.”
Tariq Parvez said:
I work in a permaflex and printing company. I could not get through to work this morning. A large group of protestors threatened to beat me if I tried
to reach my work premises. The group looked scary and was shouting out about how Kaffir (infidels) were ruining the country. I am fearful for my life
and my family.”
Shakil Masih a school music and fine art teacher at BeaconHouseSchool said:
“I was travelling to school and was stopped by protesters. They threatened to kill me and beat me on my back to send me home. I later called the school
and found out it was closed, but no-one from management had contacted me. This type of incident will continue until the government takes bolder steps
to improve Pakistani Society.”
Rafique Gill, a scrap merchant, said:
“It is worrying that the protesters are in the streets with such animosity. So far Christian areas have not been attacked but there is, as yet, no
extra policing for our communities. I have taken the risk of opening my business as it is far from the city centre and most of my clients are Christian.
But if I am threatened I will close the shop. It is not worth the loss of life, even though I desperately need the money.”
If you would like to contribute towards our ongoing work for suffering Christians our bank details and paypal/visa payment facility can be found here: (click here). Please use Ref: Love for Pakistani Christians.
Mumtaz Qadri is being visited by thousand of visitors as many conservatives in Pakistan mourn the loss of a man they believe to be a saint.
Protesters at Faizabad Interchange Rawal Pindi
Brave Shamim Masih at Abbpara Protest
Lahore Bar Association declares one day strike
Police officers seem scant and too few to cope with mass demonstrations and rioting.
Riot Police have been called in to protect the peace.
Shops are closed across the country
Shopping centres are deserted
Protest at Pashawer More Rawalapindi
Buses and other transport vehicles are at a standstill
Mass protests occur across the country.
Road blocks have brought the country to a standstill.