Many who attended recent protests against a perceived watering down of blasphemy laws say they are inspired by Mumtaz Qadri, a policeman executed for killing a governor known for supporting a Christian woman charged with blasphemy.
Mumtaz Qadri was part of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer's official security detail in 2011 when he gunned down the politician. Why? Because Taseer spoke out in support of a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, charged with blasphemy, something Qadri said justified his actions.
Qadri, who was executed by the state for the murder of Taseer in 2016, was a follower of the Barelvi Sunni religious sect in Pakistan. His supporters showered him with petals when he appeared for his court hearings and when he was sentenced to death, religious parties protested in several cities, arguing Qadri was merely "defending religion."
After he was hanged, hundreds of thousands of people took part in his funeral and a shrine was built for Qadri.
Recent protests in Pakistan resurrected Qadri via the sentiment of protecting current blasphemy laws; some demonstrators even held up posters of Qadri.
As this controversial figure’s legacy lingers or even thrives, Taseer’s Shehryar says the murderer of his father cannot be a saint.
TRT World’s Ali Mustafa reports from Bhara Kahu in Punjab, Pakistan.