Fear remains among Pakistani Christians one year after Taseer's death

Vigils have been held across Pakistan this week to mark the first anniversary of the murder of the Governor of Punjab.

Salman Taseer was shot and killed a year ago by his own personal bodyguard not long after he proposed that the President pardon Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Bibi remains in prison, with little sign that her appeal will be heard soon.

In addition to defending Bibi, Taseer had spoken out in support of reform of the blasphemy laws, similar to Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was shot and killed by extremists just two months later.

Mgr Rufin Anthony, Bishop of Islamabad, told AsiaNews that Taseer's murder had "silenced all those who dared to take the word against fanaticism".

"We must be able to talk without fear," he said.

Mumtaz Qadri openly confessed to killing Taseer and was sentenced to death last October.

The protests and threats issued by Qadri's supporters became so severe that the judge who ruled on the case was forced to flee Pakistan with his family.

There are also grave concerns for Taseer's son, Shahbaz, who was abducted last August and has not been seen since.

David Griffiths, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, expressed his solidarity with the Taseer family and "all those who work for justice in Pakistan".

"The events of 2011, including the extreme reaction to Qadri’s conviction in October, are a stark reminder that those who support the blasphemy law in Pakistan show no sign of diluting their views or rejecting vigilantism," he said.

"CSW is committed to supporting initiatives in Pakistan that challenge this state of affairs and promote freedoms of religion and expression.”

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