Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the bodyguard arrested for the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, shouts religious slogans while being taken away by police after he was presented at a court in Islamabad. -Reuters Photo

LAHORE: Lawyers showered the suspected killer of a prominent Pakistani governor with rose petals when he arrived at court Wednesday and an influential Muslim scholars group praised the assassination of the outspoken opponent of laws that order death for those who insult Islam.

Mumtaz Qadri made his first appearance in an Islamabad court, where a judge remanded him in custody a day after he allegedly sprayed automatic gunfire at the back of Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard.

A rowdy crowd slapped him on the back and kissed his cheek as he was escorted inside. The lawyers who tossed handfuls of rose petals over him were not involved in the case.

As he left the court, a crowd of about 200 sympathizers chanted ''death is acceptable for Muhammad's slave.'' The suspect stood at the back door of an armored police van with a flower necklace given to him by an admirer and repeatedly yelled ''God is great.''

More than 500 clerics and scholars from the group Jamat Ahle Sunnat said no one should pray or express regret for the killing of the governor. The group representing Pakistan's majority Barelvi sect, which follows a brand of Islam considered moderate, also issued a veiled threat to other opponents of the blasphemy laws.

''The supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy,'' the group warned in a statement, adding politicians, the media and others should learn ''a lesson from the exemplary death.''

Jamat leader Maulana Shah Turabul Haq Qadri paid ''glorious tribute to the murderer ... for his courage, bravery and religious honor and integrity.''

Mumtaz Qadri told interrogators Tuesday that he shot the liberal Taseer multiple times because of the politician's vocal opposition to the harsh blasphemy laws.

Opinion

Story of the last tamarind leaf
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Story of the last tamarind leaf

These journalists speak for all the troubled features of India’s democracy that Mr Modi didn’t tell the G7 about.
Understanding abuse
Updated 22 Jun 2021

Understanding abuse

Condemnations have been rare while there is no debate on the prevalence of such abuse beyond the Mufti Azizur Rehman case.
The roots of hate
Updated 21 Jun 2021

The roots of hate

The reference to being ‘out-populated’ is a popular theme in modern neo-Nazi and white supremacist thought.

Editorial

Describing OBL
22 Jun 2021

Describing OBL

FM Qureshi’s non-committal reply to question about Osama being a terrorist or a martyr has sent the wrong message to the world.
22 Jun 2021

A neglected sector

THE PTI legislators joined forces with opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly the other day to take their own...
22 Jun 2021

Air safari

THE resumption of PIA’s air safari flights to Skardu will hopefully attract international and domestic tourists,...
Poll consensus
Updated 21 Jun 2021

Poll consensus

If the govt is reluctant to take part in an APC on poll reforms, then it must ensure that parliament can be used for this purpose.
21 Jun 2021

Global displacement

THE number of globally displaced persons shared by the UN’s refugee agency in a report released on Friday is...
21 Jun 2021

KP budget

THE KP budget 2021-22 is a sort of please-all document that hands out something to almost everyone in the hope of...