ISLAMABAD - The confessed killer of a liberal Pakistani politician provided a judge Monday with the names of two men whose sermons allegedly sparked him to act, as YouTube footage emerged of the assassin chanting Islamic verses in police custody.
The slaying of Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer nearly a week ago shocked many around the world, but tens of thousands of Pakistanis have expressed support for 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri, who said he killed the governor for criticizing laws that carry the death penalty for insulting Islam....
Human rights activists have also said Pakistan's blasphemy laws are used to settle rivalries and persecute religious minorities.
Governor Taseer had called them "black" laws, but he wasn't demanding they be repealed. Instead, he wanted them reformed so they wouldn't be misused. Taseer became energized by the case of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who he said was wrongly sentenced to death for insulting Islam's prophet, Muhammad. The pope also called for her release.
Qadri told a judge Monday in written testimony that he decided to kill Taseer after he attended a gathering on Dec. 31 organized by Shahab-e-Islam, a small Islamist group that operated in his neighborhood in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, Islamabad. He said speeches given by a cleric leading the group, Qari Hanif, and another member, Ishtiaq Shah, played a major role in his decision....
Police decided to present Qadri before the judge a day before he was scheduled to appear to avoid attracting the crowds of supporters who have shown up for his previous court appearances, said Islamabad police spokesman Naeem Iqbal.
In his previous appearances, supporters showered him with rose petals, kissed his cheek and shouted slogans in his favor.
The footage that appeared on YouTube showed Qadri chanting verses praising Islam's prophet as a police officer sits next to him. It is unclear who recorded the video. It was posted on Jan. 6, two days after Taseer was killed, and is accompanied by comments both for and against Qadri.
Tens of thousands of people marched through the southern port city of Karachi on Sunday to oppose any change to the blasphemy laws and many expressed support for Taseer's killer, chanting "Courage and bravery, Qadri, Qadri."...
Amid threats from groups defending the law, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ruled out any changes to the legislation.Read more at www.jihadwatch.org