In their thousands they came to mourn. Flowers strewed the procession route. People kissed the image of the dead man. They wept, unconsolable. Was this a Gandhi that had so touched the hearts of a nation freed from an imperial power, or perhaps a beloved former princess killed before seeing her son ascend a throne?
No, this is Pakistan. Where the assassin of Govenor Salmaan Taseer, killed for daring to suggest the blasphemy law might need adjusting to prevent miscarriages of justice, was treated by some as a national hero after being hanged for his crime.
It was not even a proposed repeal of the blasphemy law, that caused his bodyguard to shoot the Govenor. He was this week hanged for his crime. And so many wept for him, as a martyr defending the prophet.
When people claim that you must love the prophet beyond your own children, how far do you think fundamentalists will take this charge of devotion? To the discharging of a gun. Others showed their love weeping for the gunman as a hero.
Such a killing could never happen here in the UK, we try to reassure ourselves. Nor be supported. If we choose to forget what happened with Salman Rushdie, we might be able to delude ourselves. I fear it is a matter of time. The ideology is already in place.
Meet an iman in the UK, talking about the assassin:
The fundamentalist ideology is here, and it needs pushing back. We cannot let extremists win by making us fear all Muslims, or silence us from critiquing how Islam is practised or Mohammed is viewed.
That is why I support the Quilliam Foundation, Tell MAMA and the Council of Ex Muslims. We need a human discourse that dispels hatred and mistrust. That challenges the fundamentalist narrative about Islam. If we do not have this in civil society, we know what tomorrow may bring.
Whatever our views on religion, that is a dawn that we do not want to see on the horizon.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog