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Pakistan

Pakistani religious leaders support governor murder

Reuters/Mehdi Shah

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Punjab governor Salman Taseer on Wednesday. Many religious leaders in the country have supported the murder of Taseer, who was a committed secularist.

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Taseer was shot dead by one of his security guards on Tuesday. The funeral, which was closed off to the public for security reasons, took place in the governor's house in Lahore.

The occasion revealed some very dangerous divisions within Pakistani society," says correspondent Omar Waraich. "A number of religious leaders have taken a very hard line on this. Even the so-called moderate Barelvi school has seen 500 scholars support the assassination."

The imam of Lahore's largest mosque refused to read Taseer's funeral prayers.

The area was sealed off. Even the opposition Pakistan Muslim League, who run Punjab province, were barred for reasons of political sensitivity.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Taseer recently defended a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

"He was one of a handful of politicians willing to stand up for her rights," says Waraich. "Now it seems extremely unlikely that anyone will confront religious bigotry in this country in the same way."

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