The world’s first assassins were Arab hashshashin, or “hashish-eaters”. They were fanatics of the Ismaili sect of Islam, and their purpose in life was to kill infidels, especially Christians, and anyone else who blasphemed against the prophet. They hashshashin had to get ripped on hash to work up the nerve for killing.
When the word was borrowed into French and Provençal, and thence into English, it lost the plural sense, and gave us the singular form “assassin”.
And it was an Islamic assassin — in the pure, original sense of the word — who murdered the governor of Punjab in Pakistan today. There’s no information on whether he had to get stoned to pull the trigger, but his motive was the traditional one: he assassinated Governor Salman Taseer for failing to follow the letter of Islamic law.
The governor’s crime was to protest the death sentence against Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who was sentenced for blaspheming Mohammed. Mr. Taseer had also spoken with approval of his expectation that the blasphemy law would soon be revised to reflect civilized norms of jurisprudence.
That was too much for one of the governor’s bodyguards, who gunned down his boss in the capital city of Pakistan. There’s no doubt who did it, or why: the assassin has admitted the crime, and said he did it because of Mr. Taseer’s position on the Bibi case.
As Vlad Tepes points out, this killing is a message to every political leader in the world, and not just Muslim ones: if you attempt to limit the scope of traditional sharia law, or even talk about doing so, you will die.
This is our future. The leaders of the most Islamized nations of the West are being put on notice: when there are enough Muslims in your countries, this is what you can expect. France first, then the UK and Sweden, then the Netherlands — with Geert Wilders being the number one target — and then eventually the rest of us.
Why do you think Muslims are offering to guard Coptic churches?
A more prudent choice of guardians may be warranted…
Here’s a selection of articles about what happened, as well as a composite video. First, from The Times of India:
Pakistan: Punjab Governor Salman Taseer Killed by His Guard
ISLAMABAD: The governor of Pakistan’s powerful Punjab province was shot dead Tuesday by one of his guards in the Pakistani capital, apparently because he had spoken out against the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, officials said.
The killing of Salman Taseer was the most high-profile assassination of a political figure in Pakistan since the slaying of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, and it rattled a country already dealing with crises ranging from a potential collapse of the government to Islamist militancy.
The suspected killer was taken into custody, and there were conflicting reports as to whether he was wounded.
Taseer was a member of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower. The governor was vocal on a range of subjects, and frequently used Twitter to get across his views.
In recent days, as the People’s Party has faced the loss of its coalition partners, the 56-year-old Taseer has insisted that the government will survive. But it was his stance against the blasphemy laws that apparently led to his killing.
Interior minister Rahman Malik told reporters that the suspect in the case had surrendered to police and told them he killed Taseer because “the governor described the blasphemy laws as a black law.”
“He was the most courageous voice after Benazir Bhutto on the rights of women and religious minorities,” said a crying Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to Zardari and friend of Taseer. “God, we will miss him.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy law has come under greater scrutiny in recent days after a Christian woman was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Under pressure from Islamist parties, the People’s Party said recently it would not pursue changes to the law, which has long vexed human rights activists.
Police official Mohammad Iftikhar said Taseer was gunned down after he reached Khosar Market, a shopping center in Islamabad popular with Westerners and wealthy Pakistanis. Five other people were wounded as other security personnel responded to the attack.
Another police official, Hasan Iqbal, said a pair of witnesses told the police that as the governor was leaving his vehicle, a man from his security squad fired two shots at him. Taseer then fell, while other police officials fired on the attacker.
Taseer was believed to be meeting someone for a meal, Malik said. Other members of his security detail were being questioned, Malik said.
The security for Taseer was provided by the Punjab government. “We will see whether it was an individual act or someone had asked him” to do it, Malik said of the attacker.
Bullet casings and blood covered much of the scene at the market, and police quickly cordoned off the area.
Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for YouTubing this video from several sources:
From Asia News:
Pakistan: Punjab Governor Assassinated, He Had Called for Asia Bibi’s Pardon
Salman Taseer was killed by a member of his security detail. Interior minister says that the murderer acted because the governor had described the blasphemy law as a “black law”.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was assassinated today by a member of his security detail at a popular market in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. His assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, said he killed him because the governor had described the blasphemy law as a “black law”.
Unlike other Pakistani leaders, Taseer had openly opposed the blasphemy law. He had recently called on President Zardari to grant a pardon to Asia Bibi, a Christian woman from Punjab sentenced to death after she was accused of blasphemy.
“He has confessed his crime and surrendered his gun to police after the attack,” Interior Minister Rahman Malik said about the assassin, explaining that he is a police officer from Rawalpindi and had been recently added to the governor’s staff. This was the third time he worked in the security detail.
President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and other political leaders condemned the murder. Various human rights groups expressed their gratitude to Taseer for his efforts towards the abolition of the blasphemy law and for his defence of Asia Bibi’s life.
And from AKI:
Pakistan: Punjab Governor Taseer ‘Assassinated by Own Security Staff’
Islamabad, 4 Jan. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Pakistan’s Punjab provincial governor Salmaan Taseer was shot dead by a member of his own security staff on Tuesday at a market in an upscale neighbourhood in Islamabad, according to police.
The attacker, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, used an automatic weapon to shoot Taseer at close range as the 46-year-old member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party was getting into his car after a visit to the Kohsar Market.
Qadri surrendered to police and confessed to the killing, saying he carried out the assassination because Taseer had sought clemency for a Christian Pakistani woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Punjab.
Asiya Bibi was jailed after an argument with some local Muslim women in a district near the provincial capital, Lahore. The women refused to drink water that Bibi had fetched because she was a Christian.
During a meeting with Taseer, Bibi entrusted her fight for pardon to the governor, who said he would convey the appeal to Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari.
Bibi, an agricultural worker and mother of five, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy, according to human rights groups.
Taseer had said that Bibi was a poor woman who does not possess enough resources to defend herself. He expressed certainty that Zardari would grant her a pardon.
The slain governor was a leading moderate voice in the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party. The PPP-led government is teetering on the verge of collapse after losing its parliamentary majority when its junior coalition partner switched to the opposition on Sunday.
Hat tips: Vlad Tepes, C. Cantoni, and Insubria.