Maryland Mosque Honors Assassin of Pakistani Governor Who Spoke Against Blasphemy Laws

PIKESVILLE, Md. — A Maryland mosque held an event on Sunday to honor a Muslim terrorist who shot and killed the former Pakistani governor of Punjab in 2011 over his statements in opposition to the nation’s laws prohibiting blasphemy against Islam.

Gulzar E Madina Mosque in Pikesville hosted an “Urs” observance on Feb. 12, which is an event marking the anniversary of the death of a Muslim entity considered a saint. Mumtaz Qadri was executed last February for murdering the governor.

“Whoever disrespects the holy prophet Muhammad is worthy of death, and even if disrespects indirectly he is still worthy of death. Even if someone asks for forgiveness it is not acceptable,” one of the speakers at the Urs declared, according to the Rabwah Times.

Qadri had served as a bodyguard for Gov. Salman Taseer, but after Tasser expressed objection to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and how they had been applied to prisoner Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death in 2010 over allegations that she blasphemed Muhammad, he sought to kill him.

In January 2011, Qadri shot Taseer over 25 times with an assault rifle while he was entering his vehicle in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market. Qadri then surrendered to police.

“The governor fell down, and the man who fired at him threw down his gun and raised both hands,” witness Ali Imran recalled to Reuters.

Qadri was soon sentenced to death, and after five years in prison, he was hanged for his crime. His funeral was attended by over 100,000 people, and some protested his execution as he was rather hailed as a hero.

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“Mumtaz Qadri was not a terrorist, and whoever says, ‘We are with you O prophet’ cannot be a terrorist,” declared cleric Ijaz Hussain at the Maryland Urs this month.

Islamic scholar Syed Saad Ali also addressed those gathered, asking why Muslims didn’t do more to support Qadri.

“Warrior Mumtaz Qadri kissed the noose in love for prophet Muhammad. When Qadri was in jail for five years what did we do? What effort did we make [for his release?],” he asked. “Why did we not go where he was being held? Qadri did everything for us, and for the love of Islam and we could not even stand by him. People say Islam teaches peace … I say Islam teaches us Ghairat (honor). Who will now stand up?”

But some have expressed objection to the mosque’s event honoring Qadri, including American Muslims.

“Disgusting event on Sunday. I’m a Muslim and you do not represent me,” Sahar Shafqat wrote on the mosque’s Facebook page. “You should be deeply ashamed of yourselves.”

“This is disgusting,” wrote Salman Faridi, who shared a photograph of the event flyer.

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