Pakistan: Suburban mosque named after Salmaan Taseer’s assassin

Salmaan Taseer, assassinated in January 2011 after criticizing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

ISLAMABAD: In the suburbs of the capital, along the road to the airport, lies Ghori Town, a housing society near Khanna Bridge. This otherwise unassuming neighbourhood, however, has a curious claim to fame and an unexpected link with the man who was convicted of murdering former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and is currently awaiting confirmation of his death sentence in prison.

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’.

Taseer’s assassin, Mumtaz Qadri

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.

Sabri said the main prayer hall was constructed by the housing society’s developers, but more storeys are expected to be added, which will be paid for by donations.

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…