Murdered Punjab governor's son receives death threats from Islamists over Christmas message

The son of a murdered Punjab governor has received death threats from Pakistani Islamists after posting a Christmas message asking for prayers for Christians who have fallen victim to the country's blasphemy laws.

(REUTERS / Mohsin Raza)A portrait of the assassinated Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer is displayed during a Sunday service at the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection in Lahore January 9, 2011.

Shaan Taseer, a Muslim, posted a video message on Facebook greeting Christians a happy holiday to show solidarity with them. He also called for prayers for Christian woman Asia Bibi and other people who have been falsely charged with blasphemy under the country's "inhumane" laws, Reuters relays.

Earlier in the week, Taseer said he started receiving "very credible death threats" from hardline Muslims. Some of the messages contained photos of his father's killer, bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri, along with a menacing message suggesting he could be killed.

"They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri's photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me," Taseer told Reuters on Monday.

A representative for hardline Islamist movement Sunni Tehreek has issued a statement saying the Lahore police should charge Taseer with blasphemy against Islam over his Christmas message. The group has also threatened to stage massive protests until the younger Taseer is charged.

Despite the death threats, Mujahid Abdur Rasool of Sunni Tehreek told Reuters that they are only calling for Taseer's prosecution and lawful execution and not for his murder.

Bibi's case has led to the death of two government officials in Pakistan. It can be remembered that Taseer's father, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was shot to death by Qadri because of his efforts to help Bibi in her blasphemy case. The late governor, who said that the law was wrongly applied in the case, had also called for reform in Pakistan's blasphemy laws, BBC reports.

Two months after Gov. Taseer's murder, Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti also spoke out against Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Bhatti, the only Christian member of the country's cabinet, said the laws were being abused. He was assassinated after he left his mother's house.

Bibi, on the other hand, spent her seventh consecutive Christmas in jail. Her supporters say the blasphemy charges against her were fabricated in order to persecute a Christian.

 

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