Thousands of mourners in Pakistan have turned out for the funeral of a former bodyguard executed for killing Punjab’s governor over his opposition to blasphemy laws.
The BBC reports that security was tight as a crowd of about 30,000 gathered to pay their last respects to Mumtaz Qadri in Rawalpindi.
Qadri was hailed as a hero by some for the 2011 killing of Salman Taseer, who wanted to reform the blasphemy laws. Qadri supporters threw rose petals on his coffin, Reuters reported from Liaquat Bagh park where the funeral was held. “He lives! Qadri lives!” mourners chanted, the news agency reported. “From your blood, the revolution will come!”
Security forces kept their distance and activists of the Sunni Tehreek movement, which organised the funeral prayers, controlled the crowd.
The coffin was then taken in its flower-strewn ambulance some 20km (12.5 miles) north to Qadri’s ancestral village on the eastern outskirts of Islamabad.
His execution on Monday prompted protesters to take to the streets in cities in Pakistan. Qadri was executed at 04:30 local time (23:30 GMT) at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on Monday.
He had trained as an elite police commando and was assigned to Salman Taseer as his bodyguard. Qadri shot the politician 28 times at an Islamabad market in January 2011 and was sentenced to death later that year.
He claimed it was his religious duty to kill the minister, who was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and supported liberal reforms.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan and critics argue that blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores and unfairly target minorities.
The 2011 murder of Salman Taseer, who was the governor of Punjab, was one of Pakistan’s most high-profile assassinations
He was one of the most prominent liberal politicians in the country and a close associate of Asif Ali Zardari, who was then the president. He had called for a pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (saw).