Salman Taseer – a senior member of the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – was assassinated by one of his bodyguards angered over the governor’s opposition to blasphemy laws. He had recently angered Islamists by appealing for a Christian woman, sentenced to death for blasphemy, to be pardoned.
Earlier, Sunni Muslim clerics had organized a 24-hour strike across Pakistan to protest against possible changes to blasphemy laws. Rallies were staged in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta after Friday prayers.
The government has distanced itself from a bill to change the law, which carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Rights groups say the law is often used to persecute religious minorities.
The legislation returned to the spotlight in November when a Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death. Although no-one convicted under the law has been executed, more than 30 accused have been killed by lynch mobs.
Even the Pope got into the act by asking to show mercy on Ms Bibi, who denies insulting the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with other farmhands in a Punjab province village in June 2009.
As I stated earlier – the insanity that is religion, kills – and there are unfortunately no surprises here. Those who are afflicted by the most extreme manifestations of this pathological condition will stop at nothing in order to prevent any opposition to it, and even the mildest forms of it are seen as a threat and must be eradicated.
Don’t look for any rhyme or reason at the bottom of it, as you will only find hate, deep seated hate, so blinding in its intensity that no appeal to a common humanity can get through. This is because these feelings are not truly human; they belong to that part of the brain that is still pure animal, and driven by the most basic of primitive instincts: fear.
Such instincts serve the herd well and keep it alive, for religion requires herd-like behaviour that allows it to be a force to reckoned with, and not because it is made-up of individuals who are themselves strong – no, precisely the opposite! Membership in the herd is based on mindless participation, of unquestioning obedience and servitude. As such, a mob, herd or a posse is a function of strength in numbers only. No individuals need apply: there is no room for people who think for themselves, as that will only serve to destabilize the mob and so are seen as an absolute danger to it. And so they must be hunted down, murdered and destroyed to keep the herd safe.
Sadly, this was Salman Taseer’s fate today – shot down by his own bodyguard, someone who was hired to protect him, and dedicated keep him safe from harm. A traitorous, dishonourable act by any other name – but allegiance and honour are higher human qualities and are meaningless in the stunted mind of any member of the herd.
So indeed, a very, very sad day for humanity today.