Supporters of various Barelvi outfits held a rally on Monday where they praised Mumtaz Qadri, self-confessed assassin of Salmaan Taseer, and said that they would not let the government proceed with his death sentence.
Speakers at the rally used abusive language for Taseer’s family and others including former president Asif Ali Zardari for referring to the late governor as a martyr. They said blasphemers deserved to be killed and condemned those they accused of having a soft corner for them.
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The rally held in front of the Lahore Press Club was led by Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Some of the participants waived decorative swords at the demonstration.
Addressing the government, Rizvi said that so far he had restrained his followers from taking matters into their hands. However, he said he would not be able to keep them calm if the government continued to turn a deaf ear to their demands. “Qadri is not a terrorist. Those who say he’s a terrorist are ones. I urge General Rahil Sharif to ensure that all those facing blasphemy charges are hanged to death,” he said.
Sayed Saifullah Khalid sought a pledge from the participants that they would take to the streets out on his call to release Qadri from the prison. “We will not tolerate any ceremony held to pay tribute to Salmaan Taseer,” he said. Referring to the Liberty Roundabout vigil, he said, “Some people have managed to light candles [for Taseer] today. We won’t let this happen in future,” he said.
Sahibzada Mian Waleed Ahmed Sharqpuri said that a few days before Taseer’s assassination, his father had addressed a gathering in front of the Governor’s House where he had said that Taseer’s days were numbered.
He said they would not let the government proceeed with Qadri’s death sentence. “We will topple the government if it dares to do so,” he said.
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Maulana Tasadduq Hussain said the government was trying to justify punishment for Qadri with reference to law. “Don’t try to teach us law. Qadri’s followers know all laws,” he said.
Pir Sayed Mushtaq Aziz said there was no room in Pakistan for blasphemers. “Qadri is our hero. We will continue our protest till his release,” he said.