Published: 09:30 GMT Standard Time - Friday 25 February 2011
New Pakistani film glamorises violent Islamism
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
A new Pakistani film about an Islamist assassin who achieves hero status through murder is soon to be released amid fears that it may popularise growing violence against perceived blasphemy.
One More Holy Warrior is said to be strikingly reminiscent of the killing of Governor Salman Taseer, who was gunned down by one of his own bodyguards last month because of his opposition to Pakistan's controversial "blasphemy" law and his defence of a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death under it.
Director Syed Noor denies any link, but critics have noted the protagonist Tariq's physical resemblance to Taseer's murderer Mumtaz Qadri, while the film's tagline, "Punishment for Blasphemers: Decapitation", echoes Quadri's rationale for his crime: "Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer."
Experts argue that One More Holy Warrior's expected commercial appeal in Pakistan indicates the growing acceptability of murder in the name of Islam, while others fear it will further popularise this worrying trend.
The assassination of Governor Taseer elevated to a new level the Muslim opposition to attempts to amend the blasphemy law, which is often used against Christians and other non-Muslims. Tens of thousands of Muslims have taken part in nationwide protests over the issue and threatened anarchy if the government pardons Aasia or alters the law.
Islamist pressure has had the desired effect; the government has repeatedly stated that it has no plans to change the law, and National Assembly member Sherry Rehman has been forced to withdraw her private member's bill, which sought to abolish the death penalty for defiling the name of Muhammad. She has reportedly received death threats since submitting the bill last November.
Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti - a Christian - is also a target for Islamists, who have issued multiple death threats against him, because of his public opposition to the blasphemy law and his request for a pardon for Aasia.
Last week, Mr Bhatti survived a Government reshuffle - to the delight of the country's Christian minority, who face widespread discrimination in public life and therefore value having a Christian minister to represent them at the highest level. He said, "I thank God for giving me this opportunity to continue my struggle for the oppressed minorities in Pakistan."
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- 2Stand with condemned Pakistani Christian mother - 2 years ago
- 3Death threats for Pakistani Christian leader opposed to blasphemy laws - 2 years ago
- 4Pakistani Christians fear for their future after Bhatti’s murder - 2 years ago
- 5Pakistan’s only Christian government minister shot dead - 2 years ago
- 6Pakistan government “not amending blasphemy law” - 2 years ago
- 7Pakistani governor who defended Christian assassinated - 2 years ago