Taseer funeral prayer leader forced to flee from Pakistan

Chisti had been in hiding since leading the funeral prayers while his family seeks police protection from threats.

Express August 19, 2011

LAHORE: The cleric who led the funeral prayers for the late Governor Punjab, Salmaan Taseer has been forced to flee the country following threats.

According to a report by the Press Trust of India, Muhammad Afzal Chishti, the secretary general of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Ulema wing, had left the country after having received numerous threats against his life.

The report, quoting sources close to Chisti said that he had recently moved to an undisclosed location abroad after spending much of the past seven months in hiding since leading the funeral prayers.

In a related development, Chishti's son Moin Chishti had filed an application with the Punjab Police chief, requesting him to provide security to the cleric's family living in Lahore.

"Although my father has left Pakistan for abroad as there were threats to his life from different hardline religious groups, the other members of my family have received fresh threats," Moin said.

The religious community had almost unanimously refused to lead prayers of the former governor after Taseer had shown support to a blasphemy convict. Taseer was then killed for his voiced opinions against existing blasphemy laws. Despite immense pressure from the religious community, Chisti led the prayers for Taseer, who was also a senior PPP member.

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