Maryland Mosque Memorializes Islamist Assassin

Pakistani supporters of Mumtaz Qadri (Photo: © AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty)

A mosque in Maryland held a celebration in honor of an Islamist assassin who killed a governor in Pakistan for speaking about against the country’s heinous blasphemy laws.

As reported by Rabwah Times, the Gulzar E. Madina Mosque in Pikesville, Maryland, hosted an Urs celebration, a traditional commemoration reserved for saints and holy people, for Mumtaz Qadri who killed the governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer in 2011.

Qadri was Taseer’s bodyguard and was incensed that Taseer called for the reform of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. Taseer had also expressed support for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman framed for blasphemy, arrested and sentenced to death in Pakistan.

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, which carry the death penalty, are often used to exact revenge against Pakistan’s mistreated minority populations. Often, just the hint of a blasphemy accusation will spark mob violence resulting in death for the person charged.

After Qadri shot Taseer to death, he was lauded as a national hero.  More than 100,000 people attended his funeral and riots ensued for weeks after he was arrested, tried and hanged for his crime. He is viewed as a saint by a large sector of the population and a shrine is being built in Pakistan to memorialize him.

The Urs event at the Maryland mosque was advertised in the Urdu Times, the largest Urdu newspaper in the U.S. Rabwah Times reported a robust turnout, with participants including young children and teenagers.

The speakers included Syed Saad Ali, an Islamic scholar based in New Jersey, who chastised the crowd, saying:

“Warrior Mumtaz Qadri kissed the noose in love for Prophet Mohammed When Qadri was in jail for five years. What did we do? What effort did we make (for his release? Why did we not go where he was being held? Qadri did everything for us and for the love of Islam and we could not even stand by him? People say Islam teaches peace…..I say Islam teaches us ghairat (honor). Who will now stand up?

Ali also praised another killer, Tanveer Ahmad, a British-Pakistani man who stabbed to death Asad Shah, another British-Pakistani in Scotland. Shah, from the Ahmadi sect, made posts on social media that Ahmad deemed blasphemous.

Speaking about Ahmad, Ali said,

“Our warrior Tanveer, who is sitting in a jail in Scotland, I don’t know if someone knows or not, when that Mirzai (Ahmadi) spoke his ‘sacrilegious rubbish,’ he went there and stabbed him 27 times, and the police arrested him and right now he is in a jail in Scotland. So if we just take a step forward, angels will automatically come for our help. But what Mumtaz Qadri has done is something amazing, he has surpassed all these warriors.”

Another speaker, Baltimore-based Imam Ijaz Hussain, stated, “Mumtaz Qadri was not a terrorist and whoever says, “We are with you O Prophet” cannot be a terrorist.”

Hussain praised the American system of free speech, saying it allowed events such as these to be held:

“We have some freedoms here (in the U.S.) which we do not even have in other Muslim countries. This is the beauty of this country. There are some countries where we can’t even praise the prophet, we can’t celebrate the Day of Imam Hussain. This country has freedom of religion, and this is the beauty of this country.”