“Salmaan Taseer was a critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which imposes the death penalty on those found guilty of denigrating the Prophet Mohammed. The law goes back to colonial times, but it was General Ziaul Haq, an unelected dictator, who introduced the death penalty. Successive governments have since tried to weaken the law, but given up in the face of opposition from conservative religious leaders.

On 4 January, bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri turned on the politician he was supposed to protect and shot him more than 20 times. Other guards at the scene appear to have waited for the assassin to finish, after which they arrested him. In court appearances since, Qadri has been showered with rose petals. Pakistani religious scholars, described as moderates, have warned people not to mourn Taseer, because doing so would be considered blasphemous. TV commentators are only willing to say that this is a sensitive matter, and that Taseer should have watched his words and not spoken carelessly.”

From Index on Censorship