Shan Taseer, son of the late governor of Punjab, Pakistan and a human rights activist, has reportedly been getting threats from Sunni Tehreek, an extremist organization.
Taseer's father was shot for voicing his opinion on the controversial Blasphemy Law in Pakistan on January 4, 2011. The law would have sent to the gallows an illiterate Christian peasant woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy by her Muslim neighbors.
His killer, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, is revered in certain circles.
In a country where you can get killed for simply voicing your thoughts on something you believe to be fundamentally flawed in foundation as well as execution, Taseer was indeed courageous for trying to question and bring to light the injustice we dole out as a nation.
Now, apparently it's his son who's on the radar. He says the militant group of clerics was “gunning for my blood and provoking people to take my life” over a Christmas video he posted on social media in which he criticized Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
"In my Christmas message, I asked all my countryman to make a special prayer for everyone who has suffered religious persecution in Pakistan," Shan Taseer told the BBC.
"This issue has been shut down at the barrel of a gun after my father's death," he said, adding: "The law of the land states very clearly that every citizen has the right to talk about not just the blasphemy law but every law."
He also demanded the repeal of what he called the “inhumane” blasphemy laws, a longstanding demand of international human rights groups who say the laws are widely abused by people who level false allegations to settle personal scores.
FIR registered against #ShanTaseer, Shameful, Disgusting, police and law enforcement agencies are still under influence of fanatics,— Shaheryar khan (@sharyfor) January 3, 2017
The video prompted Sunni Tehreek to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, saying Taseer was marked for death because he had supposedly committed both blasphemy and apostasy.
“On social media there are calls for another Mumtaz Qadri to deal with me and people are offering to be his successor,” Shan Taseer said. “What they plan to do is engineer another Qadri-like assassination.”
"They are sending me Mumtaz Qadri's photos with messages that there are several Mumtaz Qadris waiting for me," he told Reuters.
Mujahid Abdul Rasul, a Sunnit Tehreek cleric who demanded the police take action, said Taseer’s support for Bibi and Masih meant he “was equally involved in the crime” of blasphemy.
“I don’t know why the Taseer family do this again and again,” he said. “His own father was killed for this so why is he also choosing the same path?”
The police declined to comment, and a copy of the police report on the complaint did not mention Shan Taseer by name.
The police report did reference the Christmas message and opened an investigation the blasphemy law's Section 295-A, which bans hate speech against any religion.
Pakistan’s supreme court is due to rule on Bibi’s final appeal, which was postponed in October after one of the judges recused himself from the case.
More than 200 people in Pakistan were charged under blasphemy laws in 2015 — many of them minorities such as Christians, who make up 1 percent of the population.
Critics say the laws are often used to settle personal scores, and pressure for convictions is often applied on police and courts from religious groups and lawyers dedicated to pushing the harshest blasphemy punishments.
At least 65 people, including lawyers, defendants and judges, have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Center for Research and Security Studies report and local media.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters