Mosque expansion named after political murderer

May 04, 2014 - 1:24:18 am

ISLAMABAD: A mosque named in honour of the killer of a politician who called for the reform of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws is proving so popular it is raising funds to double its capacity.

The concrete building in the suburb of the Pakistani capital, named after Mumtaz Qadri, a former police bodyguard who in 2011 murdered Salaman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province whom he was supposed to be protecting.

Taseer had incurred public wrath by voicing support for Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad.

Mohammad Ashfaq Sabri, the prayer leader in charge of the mosque, said he needed to expand to keep up with demand.

“People love Mumtaz Qadri,” he said. “More and more people want to offer their prayers in this mosque.”

The GBP7,500 they hope to raise will create a new prayer hall on the roof so that the 500 worshippers who regularly come for Friday prayers will no longer have to spill out on to the dusty lane outside in Islamabad’s VIP Ghori Town.

Qadri is celebrated for shooting Taseer outside a coffee shop in an upmarket shopping district of the capital on a winter’s day three years ago. Taseer had enraged many by describing Pakistan’s antiquated blasphemy legislation as a “black law”.