GLASGOW: The imam of Scotland's biggest mosque glorified the actions of Mumtaz Qadri in messages sent out to the local Muslim community. according to a report by the BBC.
Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman wrote in messages, which were seen by BBC, that he is "disturbed" and "upset" at the news of Qadri's execution. He also wrote "rahmatullahi alaih" (may Allah's mercy be upon him), with the name of the convicted terrorist.
The cleric further said, "I cannot hide my pain today. A true Muslim was punished for doing which [sic] the collective will of the nation failed to carry out."
Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite Force commando was convicted of the 2011 murder of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and executed at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Feb 29 this year.
Qadri shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011. He was sentenced to death for assassinating Taseer on Oct 1 the same year.
Qadri said he killed Taseer over what he called the politician's vocal opposition to blasphemy laws of the country.
The cleric also drew comparison between Qadri's actions and the actions of the French resistance against Nazi occupation in World War II.
"Just when France was occupied by Nazies [sic], French did all they had to in order to protect their nation," he writes. "They were national heroes. Hanging Mumtaz Qadri has raised serious questions about Pakistan's independence. The issue is not of an individual. The issue is of national identity and Islamic spirit."
Rehman continued to raise questions about the way the Pakistani state dealt with Qadri's case.
"The fact that the nation chose to settle the issue of Reymond Davis [sic] by forcing his relatives to accept the blood money, and sending Mumtaz bhai [brother] to gallows is a source of grief and immense pain."
Central Intelligence Agency contractor Raymond Davis had shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore in January 2011.
Davis was arrested over the killings, but set free after $2 million was paid in blood money to the families of his victims. His release was widely condemned within Pakistan.
Read more: Timeline: The Raymond Davis Case
The imam also refers to Qadri as "brother" and says that, by killing his employer whom he was paid to protect, Qadri was "carrying out the collective responsibility of the ummat," the Muslim nation as a whole and that his execution "is a collective failure of Pakistani Muslims".
Other members in the group questioned why the imam is speaking about a convicted murderer in such glowing terms, said the BBC, while another argued that Qadri took the law into his own hands and that he should not be made a hero for doing so.
The imam later clarified his messages had been taken out of context and that he was expressing his opposition to capital punishment, according to the BBC report.
Imam Maulana Habib Ur Rehman told the BBC, "The assassination of Salman Taseer is widely condemned. Whether I agree or disagree with the views he expressed, as an Imam and as a human being I express abhorrence at the manner in which he [Qadri] was executed."
"The execution was not in accordance with Islamic teachings and principles."
Rehman's remarks are the latest controversy to hit Glasglow's Central Mosque, which is the largest place of worship of any religion in Scotland, the report says.
The mosque's charity made a £50,000 donation to the Tablighi Jamaat ─ considered by many as a controversial organisation ─ and seven members members of its ruling committee have resigned after claims of intimidation and differences of opinion about the inclusion of female and non-Pakistani Muslims in the mosque's management.
The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is investigating claims of financial irregularities at the charity which runs the mosque and what it calls an "unusual" bifurcated management structure, an executive committee which manages the charity and property trustees which manage the mosque building.