Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province was assassinated by his own security guard Tuesday, according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, apparently because he spoke out against the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
The security guard was arrested, Malik said. The shooting occurred at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market, which is frequented by foreigners.
The guard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, confessed to assassinating Taseer because “he did blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammed,” said Naeem Iqbal, spokesman for Islamabad police. Qadri told police Taseer had described the blasphemy law as “the black laws.”
The blasphemy law makes it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed.
The demands of the religious that their ideas, their symbols, their institutions be held sacrosanct cannot be tolerated. It’s not respect, it’s not tolerance, it’s not understanding, it’s capitulation to the insistence of absolutists that encourages them to feel entitled to have what they treat as absolute and inviolable recognized by law in more and more areas.
The West has curbed so much of its own religious violence through confining religiosity as much as possible to the private sphere and cultivating a religious sensibility that does not see itself as entitled to impose itself violently on those who dissent from it. Steps to legally give special accommodations or deferences to absolutist religions, like the world’s major monotheisms, which are not also available to all other political, social, and irreligious groups only encourage would-be theocrats in their sense of entitlement to special treatment, special promotion, and special protections.
Salman Taseer stood up against such tyranny against the conscience and today became only the latest of a long line of martyrs for the cause of freedom of thought, speech, and religion.