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Pakistan Executes Assassin of Governor Who Opposed Blasphemy Law

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The killer of a Pakistan governor who called for reform to the country’s controversial blasphemy law was hanged Monday, according to officials.

Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard who assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer five years ago, was executed early Monday morning at a prison in the northeastern city of Rawalpindi, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Security outside Qadri’s house was reportedly strengthened, with riot police and security officials barring people from entering nearby streets.

“We have beefed up security in Rawalpindi to maintain law and order and to deal with any untoward situation,” local police official Sajjid Gondal told AFP, adding that Qadri met his family for the last time Sunday night and his body has been sent to them.

Taseer’s assassination in January 2011, when Qadri shot him more than two dozen times in broad daylight, sent shock waves through Pakistan and fueled fears of increasing Islamic extremism in the South Asian nation. The killer appeared to show no remorse for his actions, saying it was for Taseer’s outspoken condemnation of the blasphemy law.

“This is the punishment for a blasphemer,” Qadri had reportedly said during his interrogation.

Blasphemy in Pakistan has long been a contentious issue, with critics alleging it is often used to unfairly target the officially Islamic state’s Christian minority. The country’s top court last year upheld a death sentence for Aasia Noreen (also known as Asia Bibi), a woman convicted of blasphemy in 2010 whom Taseer was among the first to speak out in support of.


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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com