Thursday, January 13, 2011
Walking on eggshells
Last week Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was assassinated by one of his bodyguards. Taseer was a vocal opponent of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, under which Asia Noreen, a Christian woman, has been sentenced to death. Taseer was Noreen's most prominent supporter, calling for her to be pardoned. I understand from other sources that Noreen was charged with blasphemy over a minor dispute with her neighbours in her village. The assassination has attracted international headlines, but it's interesting to see that perhaps for fear of offending Muslim communities, most of the mainstream media has seemingly downplayed the gunman's possible religious motivation. I'm not suggesting that all Muslims are extremist, blinkered zealots. To do that would be a gross exaggeration. Christians get treated like this all the time. When the shoe is on the other foot it makes you sensitive to how adherents of other faith traditions are portrayed in the media. He has yet to be tried and convicted, but the fact of the matter is that we now know that while he is not believed to be a member of any Muslim extremist groups, he is known to be a devout Muslim.