A Pakistani rights activist, the politician whose father was murdered in 2011 for allegedly insulting Islam, said that he feared the same fate after an extremist religious group has issued a fatwa requiring his execution and the police has launched an investigation into allegations that he had committed blasphemy.
Shaan Taseer, said the Sunni Tehreek, a group of clerics from the Barelvi movement, was “gunning for my blood, and cause people to take of my life” on a Christmas video he has posted on social media in which he criticized the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
His father, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was killed in the middle of a controversy similar to one of his own guards from the police six years ago.
The governor was furious supporters of the hard line with its demand for a government pardon for Asia Bibi, a poor Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy in spite of the weakness and contradiction of the evidence against it.
His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, and it is estimated that 100 000 people attended his funeral after his execution last year.
The ire of the Barelvi sect, on the non-blasphemy issues is generally regarded as a moderate, has revived last month after Taseer has released a video expressing solidarity with the people mired in blasphemy allegations.
He has called for the release of two Bibi, who remains on death row, and Nabeel Masih, a Christian teenager arrested last year for ‘liking’ on Facebook a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
How to commit blasphemy in Pakistan
Taseer has also demanded the repeal of what he called the “inhumane” laws on blasphemy, a longstanding demand of human rights groups who say the laws are widely abused by people who level false allegations to settle personal scores.
The video invited Sunni Tehreek to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, saying Taseer was responsible for the death because he had allegedly committed blasphemy and apostasy.
The Police in the city of Lahore, also filed a first investigation report (FIR), a document that officially began the process of investigating a crime, in the context of the blasphemy laws.
According to the FIR, the police claimed to have found the video on a USB drive left on the outside of a police station.
Mujahid Abdul Rasul, a Sunnit Tehreek cleric who asked the police action, said salman Taseer’s support for Bibi and Masih to say that “he was also involved in the crime” of blasphemy.
“I don’t know why the Taseer family to do it again and again,” he said. “His father has been killed for this, so why is it not also choose the same path?”
Taseer has not been named in the FIR, with agents at Islampura police station in Lahore, claiming that they had not been able to confirm if it was really him in the video.
Whether or not the police pursue the matter, the mere accusation of blasphemy can be enough to encourage vigilante attacks.
Taseer, who lives abroad, but visits Pakistan regularly, said the Sunni Tehreek was deliberately trying to provoke his supporters in the hope that someone that mimic the death of his father, which took place in an Islamabad market on January 4, 2011.
“On the social media there are calls for another Mumtaz Qadri to take care of me and people are offering to be his successor,” he said. “What they plan to do is engineer the other Qadri-such as the assassination.”
Pakistan’s supreme court must decide on Bibi’s final appeal, which was postponed in October, after one of the judges recused himself from the case.