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← Mainstream religious organisations applaud killing of Salman Taseer

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by Cartomancer

I am uncomfortable when people say "there aren't any moderates in islam" as a blanket statement. Clearly the mainstream of Pakistani islam is much less moderate in its views than we might previously have supposed, but that doesn't mean there aren't any moderates. Salman Taseer was a moderate, keen to reform the ugly blasphemy laws of his country. Nowhere in any of the reportage on this killing has it been claimed he was not a muslim - indeed, I sincerely doubt a non-muslim could achieve any important position in the Pakistani government. He might, secretly, have been an atheist or devoted to some religion other than islam, and only islamic for show, but that too is highly revealing. If him then how many others?

It is possible that Salman Taseer was very naive and did not appreciate the degree of religious bigotry and nastiness fermenting in Pakistan, but that seems highly unlikely in a 66 year old political veteran who had repeatedly achieved high office in the Pakistani government. It would be a much safer bet to assume that Taseer understood the psychological landscape of his country very well - better than most of us in fact. Assuming that he did, I think we can infer two things. One, that he was incredibly brave and principled - he must have known he was putting his neck on the line with this policy, yet he championed it anyway. Two, and perhaps most encouraging, that he clearly thought he had some chance of success. If he, with his knowledge of Pakistani society, felt that there were enough people who might support a reform of the blasphemy laws, such that campaigning for it wouldn't just be suicidal, clearly there is some room for hope.

Thu, 06 Jan 2011 12:55:09 UTC | #574027