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The Pakistan Supreme Court has today upheld a terrorism conviction against Mumtaz Qadri, thus restoring the death penalty against him.

Mumtaz Qadri murdered Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, over the latter’s call for reform of Pakistan’s law against “blasphemy” which prevents open critical discussion of religion and is widely used to persecute minorities.

A statement from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) follows below:

Mumtaz Qadri on his arrest in 2011

Mumtaz Qadri on his arrest in 2011

In March this year, Qadri was convicted of the self-confessed murder of Salman Taseer, however the Islamabad High Court rejected a terrorism conviction. This meant Qadri was punished almost to the full extent of the law, without mandating a death penalty. We were therefore able to give a qualified welcome for what was a “muddled, but realistic best imitation of justice” available.

Today, however, the Supreme Court has upheld the earlier terrorism conviction and thus restored the death sentence.

As we said in March, not only are we against capital punishment on principle, the risk here is also that this killer — already regarded as a hero by anti-“blasphemy” zealots — will be elevated to full martyr status. Some local allies in our stance against “blasphemy” laws and “blasphemy” violence are celebrating “justice” today, however we regard this as a mistake that risks infuriating Islamist fanatics, and risks escalating “blasphemy”-related violence and injustice in the country.

We remain fully committed in opposition to “blasphemy” laws, in opposition to “blasphemy”-related violence and persecution, and in opposition to the death penalty.

IHEU is a founding partner in the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws running the End Blasphemy Laws campaign.

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