Lynching Salmaan Taseer: Social justice by a ‘pious’ nation

Published: January 7, 2011

How different is Qadri from a suicide bomber who murders innocent bystanders by blowing himself up?

Governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder at the hands of his own bodyguard has certainly rocked the proverbial Pakistani boat. Just four days into a new year – which the astrologers on the television told us would be a good one for Pakistan – a police guard turned his gun on the governor, riddling him with 26 bullets. The assassin was led away, smiling ear to ear at his accomplishment and leaving a trail of utter madness in his wake.

Pakistan has had its share of turbulent times, and through the years we’ve found surprising ways of coping with them. We deny involvement, blame ‘invisible hands’ and eventually move on to the next news story that’s breaks on TV with unfortunate animations and impudent musical scores.

The situation this time has resulted in a divide between ultra-religious hardliners and the self-proclaimed modern and free-thinking public. With large and influential religious groups condoning and even applauding the assassin for his deed, the shocked and confused free-thinking public is left questioning their notions of right and wrong.

The thing to be worried about, of course, is the implication of this assassination. An argument can certainly be made that simply speaking against a harsh sentence imposed by the Constitution (under section 295-C) does not make one wajibul qatl. Even the Sahaba were known to disagree with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at times without being declared so. Would they, too, be murdered today for having separate opinions? Besides, the laws we are talking about here are certainly man-made, with no basis in the Holy Quran or Sunnah.

The point of this writing, however, is to call attention to the implications of vigilante action. Praise is being heaped upon the assassin for gunning down the governor, and the justification for murder is that what Qadri did was congruent with the public sentiment. In the eyes of many, what Mr Taseer did -question the validity of a man-made law – was a greater evil than what the assassin did – murder.

The question, therefore, is this: Does public sentiment outweigh Islamic and constitutional law as well as basic human rights? Can we justify murder, or rather any action, because the public ‘wanted it?’ Why is homosexuality looked down upon then? Or prostitution? The public, or at least a majority, clearly wants it – if we can justify murder in this way, why not these? Where is the line drawn?

How different is Qadri from a suicide bomber, then, who murders innocent bystanders by blowing himself up? But Salmaan Taseer was not innocent, you say. Then perhaps the suicide bombings in Israel or the satanic West are justifiable, because they too are ‘enemies of Islam’ simply because we say so. What about suicide bombings in Karachi or Peshawar? Where does our passive acceptance and meek justification of mass murder end?

We, that call ourselves lovers of peace and preachers of a religion as pristine as Islam, are nothing but a crowd of disorderly bigots who find no greater joy than in finding fault with others. After all, if a crowd can beat two kids to death and get away with it, certainly a righteous protector of Islam can murder a wayward governor. Am I right?


Waleed Zuberi

A business student, freelance writer and web developer who's also Research Director for AIESEC in Karachi and Vice President of the Rotaract Club of IoBM.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Haris Masood Zuberi

    Excellent and thought provoking!
    Unfortunate that our unruly nation is comprised mostly of half-witted bigots who refuse to explore the wisdom their own minds can offer.

    Keep up the good work Waleed!Recommend

  • parvez

    You are as right as right can be. Very nicely articulated.Recommend

  • Humanity

    Is the problem expected to solve on its own some how? This is certainly not Allah Tawaqal. This is called a zombie nation with souls sold to the devil.

    How many of the moderates are trying to talk to the brain washed bigots they encounter every day. Every one is afraid of the blasphemy guillotine. Yet there is no escape from it because no one, and I repeat, no one is immune from the poison of bigotry. So do something about it or die!Recommend

  • atts

    very well written
    though i doubt if it would knock some sense into the so called ‘pious’ masses. for them its a case of my way or highway. how can we blame the west for their opinions on muslims…… the killer represents the thought process of the hundreds which clearly states ‘disagree with what i consider ‘islam’ n i consider it my religious obligation to kill u.
    i find it equally strange that soo many ppl support this act on different blog comments. however, at least they r penning it down n not lynching at us (though fear does arise, they might just do that) :(Recommend

  • Fawaad Balkhi

    Wonderful, if only people were smart enough to understand some basic principles of humanity. Unfortunately all everyone seems to care about nowadays is the “juicy & extreme news”, people just pass on there intense comments without even thinking. Our society has lost the ability to think for themselves, all we do now is follow the assumptions of others and boast our own opinions, and everyone has an opinion, but it seems as if there is no trace of even the slightest thought process beforehand. The lack of knowledge is everywhere and you can plainly see that by the majority of the public’s reaction to this matter. Recommend

  • Hasan

    I agree with you, the blasphemy law is in total contradiction to Qura’an and Sunnah, it is just a tool for the clerics to use for their political gains.Recommend

  • Waqas Zubairi

    Waleed it is sad that we are killing and codoning killing someone all in the name of showing our love to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), same prophet who prayed for people of taif when they injured him, who went to ask for a women’s health when she did not threw garbage on him and he found out that she was not well. We are damaging our religion more than any non muslim. Our prophet forgave people of Mecca who tortured so many muslims and created problems for him. We have truly lost the soul of our religion it is represented only by demagogues who use religion for their advantage. It will change only with each person playing their role, educate one person at a time. The biggest responsibility I think lies with our religious leaders.Recommend

  • Dr.Imran

    As a Pakistani Nation we dont have much time left. Instead of seriously planning for Food , Power , Electricity and Population Control or to Fight Disease like Hepatitis we are wasting our time for stupid Laws and also Killing each other.
    Arab has a bad history of Killing each other for Power and Politics involving religion . This Arabic ideology can not give us a Peacfull Harmonious Government ,
    No islamic country can dare fight back America or Europe , rather we beg to them,Recommend

  • reema

    utter madness indeed! we’re officially one of the most confused nations in the world. we don’t know where we came from, where we are and where we’re off to….only God can save us now…but apparently that too looks unlikely now because we’ve started thinking we can do God’s work for him. if we don’t mend our ways soon (and that, in my opinion, can only be done by banning madrasahs because thats where all evil seems to rise from these days), we’re in for some serious trouble.
    poor pakistan.
    good artilce btw. keep writing! Recommend

  • tired khan

    @humanity: we all might be begots, but we’re not murderers. these pseudo good-for-nothing mullahs are killing people without even giving it a second thought.

    i liked salman taseer. he was a cool guy…Recommend

  • Aristo

    The Mullah brigade is living among us: mama, chacha, cousin, khala, etc. I have personally decided to boycott interacting with people who are bigots, hate mongers, believe in taking lives of others in the name of Islam or the prophet in this particular case as it is useless trying to put sense into their minds. Reasoning, critical thinking, information processing and listening to the other’s perspective with an open mind is an alien concept for this rotten lot.Recommend

  • Faraz Fiazuddin

    Very well written, but i would have liked to see you answer some of the many questions you have raised in your article. Finding solutions to these issues is the only way we can hope for a better future for this country, if we can still manage to have a future after more than 60 years of stupidity. Religion has to be sidelined from the matters of the state and maulanas need to be restricted to mosques, or else we all know where we’re heading. Recommend

  • Salman Raza

    A good read! I was quite shocked at how the public responded to this, I know well educated people supporting Qadri and calling it a noble sin. Finally, the West has got something to show for, religious extremism at it’s peak. Recommend

  • vague twenty eight

    A very good article my friend, you have mush stated the obvious and took the thoughts from my mind and put them into the most simplest words.

    “Can we justify murder, or rather any action, because the public ‘wanted it?’ Why is homosexuality looked down upon then? Or prostitution? The public, or at least a majority, clearly wants it – if we can justify murder in this way, why not these? Where is the line drawn?” Quoting this i would like to add:

    Why is it that people of this country especially some “Sects” of this country have a hatred towards some Religions, moreover even ignoring the system “Humanity”, but when its matter of “Life and Death” turn towards them for help and consultation.

    Another important aspect that people ignore today and don’t even bother to give it a thought for a fraction of a second, is that fact that how lucky we are to be born as Muslims, even today Muslim converts form around the world are practicing Islam in a more profound a pure way and the existing Muslims are going stray form the path of Islam which is a matter of mere “Hypocrisy” i.e.

    A Local Mullah Sahib which I would refrain from naming, was very quick to comment harshly and abusively on the The United States of America, when revealed a by local Dr. he had Cancer made remarks about the Dr./s here calling them “Jahil & Un-Paar” flew to The United States and was operated by a top Jewish Dr. Recommend

  • Dr.Imran

    @Salman Raza: I agree Salman , Please Promote ur feelings around , good luck.

    @Faraz Fiazuddin: Religion has to be sidelined from the matters of the state and maulanas need to be restricted to mosques, or else we all know where we’re heading. Mr.Faraz Please say it louder and louder all around u , i appreciate. All Sharia Should be sent back to Arabian Ocean or to UAE they need it more than we do as they have full European days and nights.

    @Aristo: Your boycott policy will be effective, please go ahead , i agree, this DMP(Dari Muswak and Parda) should be corndredRecommend

  • Kashifiat

    “Even the Sahaba were known to disagree with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at times without being declared so. Would they, too, be murdered today for having separate opinions? Besides, the laws we are talking about here are certainly man-made, with no basis in the Holy Quran or Sunnah.”

    You need to learn the seerat more as your arguments are totally misguided. This law is not “Man Made” its according to Quran & Sunna.

    Your whole article is master piece of one track thinking without analyzing that ST provoked first by bypassing the laws of the state. Recommend

  • Mehmood

    @Kashifiat Could you please provide a verse which supports this law? Why does no other Muslim country have this law then, if it is according to Quran and Sunnah, as you claim?

    Salman Taseer did not bypass the laws of the State, and if he provoked anyone it was only by expressing compassion for a human being (who far all we know could be innocent). That is no justification for murder.Recommend

  • Muneeb

    what you have mentioned is completely right and understandable. We do not know what should be done and how it should be implemented.
    not to mention that this was a nice article you wroteRecommend

  • Zarmeena

    @Waqas Zubairi:
    I so much agree with you.I wish our masses,deprived of true essence of Islam awakes before its too late.

    I personally made an attempt in getting to know ordinary people’s point of view regarding this very incident and I was astonished by the fact that even an ordinary person who didn’t have enough knowledge about what exactly prompted this murder seemed to applaud the murder- but why exactly ??? the reason is our media. Our media is exploiting the brains of a common man,the media is frustrating a common man and it is the same media which has now convinced a common man in believing in its self created conspiracies behind every single incident/tragedy that takes place.

    In short our people are being disabled and perplexed to decide whats right and whats wrong.

    We have the most powerful weapon in our hands “WORDS”. The right use of our words can overcome the most formidable riddles.May Allah give us the courage and strength to rectify our astrayed masses. Ameen!!!

    In the end I would like to appreciate Mr.Waleed for contributing such an authentic piece of writing.Recommend