The British Prime Minister’s June declaration, that when it came to terrorism in the UK, “enough is enough“, already looks like little more than rhetoric. If members of the British government want to move on from rhetoric to action, however, they need to do more than just work out what new things are going wrong in British counter-extremism policy. They will need to identify the mistakes they keep on making, and perhaps try to avoid making them yet again. Bewilderingly, a remarkable opportunity to learn a lesson appears to have been missed yet again.
At almost precisely this time last year, two clerics from Pakistan toured the UK. Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman are well-known clerics in their native country. Not the least of the reasons for their fame — or notoriety — is that they took a particularly strong line on the issue of Mumtaz Qadri. He is the man who in 2011 murdered Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab province in Pakistan. Taseer had gained attention for taking a brave public stance in opposition to his country’s strict blasphemy laws — often used as a pretext to persecute religious minorities, including Muslim religious minorities, in Pakistan. Such laws have recently been used against a Christian, Asia Bibi, who has now been imprisoned under a death sentence for seven years because of allegations made against her by a Muslim woman: that she drank from the same water as Muslims. The case of Asia Bibi was one of the injustices which Taseer had highlighted. Because of Taseer’s vocal opposition to such laws, Mumtaz Qadri (who had been employed to act as one of the governor’s bodyguards) evidently decided that Taseer was an apostate. In January 2011, Qadri murdered the man he was employed to look after.
Qadri’s action were hugely divisive both in Pakistan and in the global Pakistani diaspora. After a trial that same year, Qadri was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to death — a sentence that was carried out in February 2016.
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