This is a guest post by Amjad Khan
Mumtaz Qadri had been tried for the murder of Governor Salman Taseer, on the basis that the latter had violated the anti-blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Taseer had campaigned against the Islamic blasphemy laws that are used in Pakistan, arguing that they are used to deliberately oppress minorities “[of those tried under the law] How come over 50 per cent of them are Christians when they form less than 2 per cent of the country’s population. This points clearly to the fact that the law is misused to target minorities.”
Many in Pakistan had laid rose petals to commemorate the “martyrdom” of the murderer Qadri, celebrating his killing of Taseer – or “defending Pakistan’s Islam.” Muslim figureheads in Pakistan and in Western Europe should be polar opposites on this issue, as the latter has a respect for human rights and democracy, right?
Mohammed Shafiq, the politics editor of the Ummah Channel, had expressed his regret at Qadri’s death stating “Salam Mumtaz Qadri [in Arabic: May God have mercy on him].” Now this is very concerning. This is because Mohammed had made death threats to Maajid Nawaz for tweeting a bland cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed, however he later issued an apology….a year later.
Mohammed Shafiq, who has a TV channel that broadcasts 6 hours a day, has expressed public regret and wish for wellbeing to Qadri in the afterlife – does this mean he has swept away the murder Qadri was responsible for? Does Shafiq see the legitimacy in killing apostates the same way Qadri had? As one Facebook user asked:
However this isn’t the first time Mohammed Shafiq has defended violent preachers, which includes defending Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who called to action the destruction of world Jewry.
These dangerous ideas of murdering an individual on the basis of blaspheming – or even critiquing blasphemy laws – should be confronted with as they stand abhorrently against our British values. However, a Government supported Imam poised as a counter-narrative to extremism has in fact been spreading these exact theocratic ideals!
Cue Imam Qasim Ahmad, narrating the death of Mumtaz Qadri with a soundtrack of sorrow and injustice. It is a great disappoint to see that the tax-payers’ money was spent on supporting a counter-extremist spokesman who shies away from discussing the horror which was Qadri’s cold-blooded murder for blasphemy.
What of Europe’s largest mosque? Surely they would have some responsibility in denouncing both the blasphemy law and subsequent murder of those under that law. But sadly this wasn’t the case, as they too sang from the same hymn sheet mourning Qadri’s death stating, “[they are] gathering in honour of Mumtaz Qadri.”
What separates us from Pakistan is a higher respect for the rule of law and dignity for all faiths and cultures. Key Muslim figureheads in this grand Mosque should also promote these same universal values, symbiotically integrating their Islamic faith with a respect for the democratic law we abide by in the UK.
It is not enough to just abide by the law, but it is important for these influential individuals to also stand up against the abhorrent crimes Mumtaz Qadri had committed, and only the mourn loss of all the innocent people like Taseer who died fighting against theocratic blasphemy laws. Mohammed Shafiq cannot classify himself as a “moderate” Liberal democrat, Imam Ahmad cannot be a credible tax-payer supported counter-extremist, and Europe’s largest Mosque cannot call itself a promoter for the human rights cause.