A vocal critic of the blasphemy law, Salmaan Taseer showed his overwhelming support for Aasia Bibi, the woman charged with making disrespectful remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and condemned the controversial law on several occasions. Here is a list of his quotes on Aasia and the blasphemy law that might have been the cause of his death.
On his twitter page hours before his assassination:
Mera azm itna bulund hae Parae sholon se dar nahin. Mujhe dar hae tu atish e gul se hae Ye kahin chaman ko jala na dein
In an interview with Newsline published on December 23, 2010:
1. “If you want my personal opinion, I don’t like this law at all.”
2. “Even people who are deeply religious have spoken out against this black law. Ghamdi, for example, has stated clearly that this has nothing to do with Islam – Islam calls on us to protect minorities, the weak and the vulnerable.”
3. “I have showed my solidarity with minority communities who are being targeted by this law and, in doing so, I have sent across a strong message.”
4. “The real problem is that the government is not prepared to face religious fanaticism head on. This also gives us a bad name in the world.”
5. “The thing I find disturbing is that if you examine the cases of the hundreds tried under this law, you have to ask how many of them are well-to-do? Why is it that only the poor and defenceless are targeted? How come over 50 per cent of them are Christians when they form less than 2 per cent of the country’s population. This points clearly to the fact that the law is misused to target minorities.”
6. “What I find particularly distasteful is that when you speak of amendment, people assume you condone the crime. If I am against the death sentence, it does not mean I condone murder.”
During a press conference with Aasia Bibi on November 20, 2010:
“The sentence against Aasia is inhumane. I have been handed over an appeal for a presidential pardon which I will take to the president and soon Aasia will be pardoned.”
In an interview with CNN in November 2010:
1. “If the High Court does not suspend her sentence we will pardon her.”
2. “The blasphemy law is not a God-made law. It’s a man-made law. It was made by General Ziaul Haq and the portion about giving a death sentence was put in by Nawaz Sharif. So it’s a law which gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.