Accused assassin greeted with flowers
January 6th, 2011
03:01 PM ET

Assassin or hero? Pakistan's great divide over killer of governor

Imagine this: One of the top politicians of your country is gunned down by his own bodyguard. Shocking, but not unheard of.

Now imagine this: The very next day, the assassin shows up at court and is given a hero's welcome. Supporters shower him with rose petals and put a garland around his neck.

Sound bizarre? Well, that's exactly what has happened this week in Pakistan.

The killing and its aftermath highlight as never before the fast-growing divide between the country's secular and religious forces. It's a divide that's symbolized by the life and death of Salman Taseer, the slain governor of Punjab province.

To understand this divide it's important to know a bit more about Taseer's background. He was the son of an urban intellectual, born the year before the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1947. His political thoughts were forged at his English-style high school in posh Lahore, and then furthered in his time studying accounting in England. Taseer lived and died a Muslim.

Read the full story here about the debate in Pakistan of the death of a governor.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Interfaith issues • Pakistan • Violence

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Time is Precious

    Every time word Islam is mentioned we see hate messages next to it. I am a Muslim and I do understand why. There are some misguided folks who misinterpreted the message of Islam and caused violence in its name. There are billion of us but only these people make the news.
    Human nature is to be afraid of something different. As a Muslim, I feel, it is my duty to clear some misconception. What is Islam in few lines is something everyone deserves to know, it is to believe and obey only one God. Every time humanity deviated from this path, God sent down His of prophets (Noah, Ibrahim, Mosses Jesus and Mohammed were among thousands) who carried this single message to the whole humanity (And they all had the highest moral standards). That is the message of Islam.

    God speaks to the whole humanity through His book Quran..

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    Most exalted is the One in whose hands is all kingship, and He is Omnipotent.The One who created death and life for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better. Quran [67.2]

    Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    January 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  2. a guy from lebanon

    All islam has brought to the world was corruption, killing and hatred. I salute my ancestors who never wanted to turn in to islam and who have always stayed Christian even if it would cost them there lives.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Anglican

    Osama. Evil for evil never works. Vengeance is not mine to take.

    January 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  4. Anglican

    Frogist. To cut a persons body in half with an automatic weapon is evil no matter who you god is. Even an atheist has a sense of good and evil.

    January 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      What about cutting the body of Hitler, or George Bush Jr., or Saddam, or Stalin, or Jack the Ripper in half. Is that evil too?

      January 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  5. (B)iraq Hussein Osama

    you clearly have not dealt with politicians from the third world. they will sell their mother if that gets them a few ounces of power. To use something mundane like "blasphemy laws" as a means of gaining attention, popularity, power, wealth, its a no-brainer. I am bemused how quickly you ve fallen for his "blasphemy law" trick. But once bitten twice shy, as they say.

    January 8, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  6. Logic

    It's violence perpetuated through the use of religion.

    It doesn't get any simpler than that.

    January 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Anglican

      Evil is evil. Evil has nothing to do with true faith in God. This is evil, pure and simple.

      January 7, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Frogist

      @Anglican: Except what is "true faith"? Surely the assassin believes he was doing what was true to his faith as well. Good and evil are both relative terms.

      January 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Gary

    It never ceases to amaze me the violence perpetrated in all these muslim countries. b-ombs going off in Jakarta,phillpines,all the middle eastern countries and now this horrible ass-ssination. Just like Sadat from Egypt. I am not gonna argue how close minded religious fanatics especially muslims are ruining the entire world.

    January 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  8. Reality

    And to think the insanity would stop if only Muslims would read and take to heart and mind the following:

    Saving Muslims is quite easy!!!

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    (Please forward a copy of these Five Steps to all your Muslim friends especially those in Pakistan)

    January 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Logic

      No Reality those steps won't work.

      As I've re-iterated before, this phrase, it is embedded into the minds of every idiot in religious upbringing: "You can not prove to me that I am wrong".

      It is just a phrase that lies hidden in their minds and that is the one foundation into not freeing ones' mind. They will be locked in their indoctrination til they die.

      All religions have one agenda – promote their own kind of theocracy as the only one. If you do not think so, then you are branded as the "outcast" / "unbeliever" / whatever. It's just petty words to say: "we don't want you to speak."

      It's plain and simple:
      "Shut up and let me preach my religious views to someone else while you remain quiet and not convince someone not to be converted."

      January 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  9. Sammy Hagar

    As much as I'd love to think otherwise, I truly believe that if someone like Sarah Palin who is without a doubt an religious extremist got into power, or heavens forbid Mitt Romney, you would start to see the same kind of thing happen in the USA that is happening in Pakistan.

    I don't care which religion you follow, they all have a dark side just waiting to see the light.

    January 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Shilohgl

      Nah son as much as I dont like Palin, Americans dont tolerate killing of our leaders.

      January 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  10. HotAirAce

    It's sick and a tragedy. He is an assissin – not a hero!!

    January 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  11. Amrullah Yousafzai, Margalla Hills

    Why couldn't all Afghan girls be like her?


    January 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      they could, if you could defeat the taliban! wink wink.

      January 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      For those among us that need a reminder of what we're fighting against....


      January 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  12. JohnQuest

    I read The End of Faith by Sam Harris, in it he states that, given the chance for a democratic government with voting rights for all citizens Muslims would vote in the most radical extremist and gladly watch (and accept) their individual rights (including the right to vote) be taken away in the name of Islam. I did not really believe it until I read this article.

    January 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      brave words from people who could not even vote to prevent their government from illegally invading Iraq and directly killing in excess of 100,000 perfectly innocent civilians thereafter. and indirectly a few 100,000 more. brave words indeed. what use is your right to vote if crusaders can shamelessly go on invasions into muslim lands while you sit with your utterly useless vote in your pant pocket.

      January 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Shilohgl


      Congress does vote to have our military go to war. In the case of Iraq, that was just misinformation on the part of some who wanted that war, but make no mistakes about it, we maynot agree on the reason for going to war but Americans will never give a hero's welcome to someone who kills out president. Booth was killed, Oswald was shot...we (americans) dont like our leaders murdered. Pakistan or any muslim country whose people cheered when those planes struck the twin towers dont deserve to be countries. There is no place in the world I want my kids to grow up in for hate like that.

      January 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Shilohgl: I'm not sure you're being quite accurate about Americans tolerating people who assasinate govt leaders. Unfortunately there are those who still idolize John Wilkes Booth and consider him a heroic figure indeed. Not to mention Lee Harvey Oswald. Americans tolerate murder just fine when it suits our needs.
      Also I'm sure some of the people of Iraq might think the US shouldn't be a country either since many of us were quite happy to invade and kill so many of their people.
      The US is not immune to issues of hate, bias or violence, especially regarding religion.

      January 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  13. Frogist

    My heart goes out to him and his family and all the people of Pakistan. What else can be said?

    January 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  14. JohnQuest

    I believe, if the fundamentals thought they could get away with they would try that here in my beautiful but sometimes wrong country).

    I'm Proud to be an American, where at least I don't have to believe.

    January 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ronald

      I completely agree!

      January 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  15. Peace2All

    This is just an absolute fcking tragedy!!!... pure and simple.

    And, yet, we still find sometimes people here on this blog even, that wonder... what is the big deal if any one particular religion came into full power, and decided that any kind of secular humanism, or -anti-religion thoughts were not o.k.

    Well, ya' may get things like what happened in this article. Yes, I'm aware that this was 'one' person, however as the article states... it is an even greater growing trend in Pakistan towards more violent terrorism. The moderates and liberals are afraid to even speak out, because of being afraid that they will be killed. These radicalized Muslim's are absolutely insane...! These are certainly not the peace loving kind I have met, and am aware of.

    And yes, I've seen it on this blog... where someone somehow has apparently spoke out against the Christian religion, and the person challenging or even making fun of Christianity is 'threatened' by the Christian or believer. What is up with that...?

    And it hasn't been limited to Muslim dominant nations or Christian dominant nations i.e.. China, and their absolute crack-down on public opinion, and global access.

    These radicalized or polarized government systems with too much power, and screwed up beliefs, that lead to a penchant for stifling or squelching free speech, or murdering people that don't agree with the majority, is certainly something to be very *concerned* about to say the least.

    May the U.S... never, ever get to that point.


    January 6, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      as most pakistanis will tell you, murdering a politician in pakistan is indeed a heroic deed. the politicians there make the right-wing military industrial complex politicians in america look like angels.

      January 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ Peace

      Too late... 1964 has already come and gone. I think every democracy has it's 'down days.' Indira Ghandi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984; many Sikhs consider the assassins 'heroes' to this day. Disgruntled southern zealots idolized John Wilkes Booth for years after his assassination of Lincoln. Sadat? The Bhuttos?

      It's all been done before, including here, and it will all be done again. There is no immunity.

      January 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @(B)iraq Hussein Osama

      Hey there B.H.O...

      What does your comment have to do with THIS particular individual...? Did you actually read the (whole) article about him and why he was murdered...?

      At least from the article, it sounds like this guy was killed for being too 'moderate' or 'liberal' or 'secular.' The main reason he was murdered was he was trying to change the current 'blasphemy laws' in Pakistan. Not even abolish it... but change it... so if someone says something that is a 'no-no' about not only Muhammed, but any other prophets, they wouldn't be put to death, just for speaking their minds.

      This guy sounds like he was 'not' the kind of politician that most Pakistanis would want to murder, unless you are inferring that most pakistanis are extreme religious radicalized crazy fanatics...? The article even talks about how frightened the moderates and liberals are–fearing more for their lives, due to the crazy and murderous fanatics that seem to desire to keep Pakistan in the 'dark ages.'

      Again, I'm just going off of the article... Maybe you know something I don't know about THIS particular politician, but from the article... my post stands. This is a tragedy.

      Do YOU believe he deserved to die... and that this was a 'heroic' deed...?


      January 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Let Us Prey

      Hey LUP...

      I know... I am aware that this isn't some unique-never happened before event... and of course, it will happen in the future. That hadn't escaped me.

      I was hoping...dare I say 'praying'... that it doesn't continue to 'escalate' further.

      'Pie-in-the-sky,' I suppose...


      January 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Keith

      Hi Peace2All, These people are humble bumbles when they are are a minority in a nation. Like here. My guess is that they're a majority in Pakistan-thus their true colors shine through. Don't be deceived by the 'religion of peace'. By the way, Asia Bibi remains in prison with suicide bombers threatening to attack the prison. May the Lord protect her.

      January 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.