In more tooth-grinding news from Pakistan, a mosque in a suburb of Islamabad has been named after the guy who murdered Salmaan Taseer.
Taseer was shot and killed by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of his own security detail, at the Kohsar Market in Sector F-6 on January 4, 2011. The shooter Qadri has become a divisive figure in Pakistani society. He is hailed as a ‘hero’ by some and denounced as a cold blooded murderer by others. Clerics from the Barelvi school of thought are among those proclaiming Qadri’s ‘heroism’.
Perhaps this is why a mosque in the suburbs of the very city Taseer was killed in, has been named after Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. The mosque is constructed on a 10-marla plot of land, next to a girls’ seminary, the Jamia Rehmania Akbaria Ziaul Binaat. Even though the housing society is not fully developed and several houses in the neighbourhood are still under construction, there are already four mosques, catering to people from different schools of thought, in close proximity to each other.
The mosque’s prayer leader, Mohammad Ashfaq Sabri, told Dawn: “The mosque was built to pay tribute to the services of the man who taught a lesson to a blasphemer,” adding that the name was chosen in consultation with religious scholars and residents of the area.
“A lesson to a blasphemer” is it. What did the “blasphemer” Salmaan Taseer do? He tried to give support and comfort to a Christian woman accused of “blasphemy” by some hateful neighbors. What a world, where you have to watch what you say about imaginary or long-dead religious heroes, or be killed.
But those living in Ghori Town say no one asked them. In fact, several residents Dawn spoke to refused to be named for fear of reprisals.
“I know who Qadri is and what he did. I have a very different opinion of him, but I can’t speak out because I’m afraid something might happen to me or my family,” said one of the mosque’s neighbours.
Another Ghori Town-resident, Mohammad Tufail, said: “Have you ever heard of clerics consulting anyone in the neighbourhood before naming a mosque? But I figure, what’s in a name? We just go there, pray and come back. I don’t want to get involved in the politics of these Maulvis.”
“I cannot comment on whether this is right or wrong. I work to provide for my family and I don’t want religious fundos beating down my door because they don’t like something I said,” said Faisal Rasool, another resident of Ghori Town.
That’s what their world is like – they’re hemmed in by violence-loving religious fanatics, and they’re afraid to say a word.