Islam faces the greatest danger from Islamist extremists

· Asia, Human Rights, Islam, Law and Religion, Pakistan

By Qasim Yousafzai

Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of slain Pakistani Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, spoke at a panel discussion at UN European headquarters in Geneva

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Islam’s greatest threat comes from those who claim to be serving it – extremist militants, Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, said June 27.

Shehrbano said that militants, whom she repeatedly called “hate mongers,” have misinterpreted Islam. “Islam is a peaceful religion,” she said.

Her father died for “a progressive Pakistan and moderate Islam, she said. In a speech titled “My Father Died for Pakistan” at the Middle East Institute in Washington, she called extremism a mindset that poses a great danger to Pakistan.

Shehrbano expressed the hope militants would not ultimately succeed by killing individuals like her father, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Shahbaz Bhatti, but warned, “The militants are successful now.”

Taseer was killed in Islamabad January 4, allegedly by a bodyguard angered by Taseer’s opposition to the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi December 27, 2007. Bhatti, federal minister for minorities and the sole Christian in the cabinet, was killed by unknown militants in Islamabad March 2, allegedly over his criticism of the blasphemy law.

Talking about the country’s blasphemy law, Shehrbano said, “The law is not a protector of religions … These laws deserve to be criticised.” Courts have sentenced a large number of defendants under that law, she said.

Regarding her father’s death, Shehrbano refused to attribute it to a security lapse even though a bodyguard is the alleged assassin.

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