ISLAMABAD: A Christmas message calling for prayers for those charged under blasphemy laws has led to death threats against the son of Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor assassinated six years ago.

Shaan Taseer said on Monday that he had received “very credible death threats” from supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, his father’s killer who was hanged in February last year.

“They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri’s photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me,” he said.

In a video message posted on his Facebook page, Shaan Taseer wished a happy holiday to Christians in solidarity and also asked for prayers for people facing blasphemy charge.

A spokesman for the Sunni Tehreek said it was demanding police in Lahore charge Shaan Taseer with blasphemy.

Police declined to comment, and a copy of the police report on the complaint did not mention Shaan Taseer by name.

The police report made a reference to the Christmas message and opened an investigation under the blasphemy laws Section 295-A, which bans hate speech against any religion.

However, Sunni Tehreek has threatened mass street protests unless the younger Taseer is charged under Section 295-C — blasphemy against Islam or the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Sunni Tehreek leader Mujahid Abdur Rasool said the group was in negotiations with the government over the case.

“When we gave them a warning for protests, a delegation of Punjab government met us today,” Rasool said, adding they had set a deadline of Tuesday for police to meet their demands.

He said Sunni Tehreek was not calling for Taseer’s murder, only his prosecution and eventual execution.

Punjab government officials could not be reached for comment.

More than 200 people were charged under blasphemy laws in 2015 — many of them Christians, who make up one per cent of the population.

At least 65 people, including lawyers, defendants and judges, have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Centre for Research and Security Studies report and local media.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2017

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