Pakistan media attacked after blackout during execution of liberal governor’s killer

A man holds up the picture of Mumtaz Qadri while attending his funeral prayer at the Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, March 1, 2016. © Faisal Mahmood
Journalists and media outlets have been targeted in attacks by religious supporters of Pakistan’s most infamous death row prisoner, Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed earlier this week.

Media organizations in Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad and other cities were attacked Friday by enraged mobs who were holding demonstrations in the wake of Qadri’s execution on February 29.

Quadri was working as a bodyguard for the Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, when he shot and killed Taseer in January 2011.

Quadri said he killed the governor because he advocated reform of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. Many regarded Quadri as a hero who killed to defend the honor of Islam, and mass demonstrations were expected to follow his death.

He was hanged at 4:30am on Monday amid a news blackout, and the country has been on high alert since.

Within hours of news of his execution emerging, religious organizations carried out protests in Lahore, Rawalpindi, and near the international airport in Karachi, but the BBC reports that media were ordered not to dwell on the story.

The lack of media coverage of Quadri’s death angered his supporters, and several journalists and media companies were attacked Friday with stones and batons by supporters, according to Daily Pakistan.

The offices of Aaj News, owned by media conglomerate the Business Recorder group, in Karachi were among those attacked.

Protesters also burned a counter at the Hyderabad Press Club, injuring four journalists and a press club employee, according to ARY News.

Media teams were attacked with stones in Lahore’s Anarkali market and windshields of two Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) vans belonging to Neo TV and Abb Takk News were smashed.

The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and Editors for Safety (EFS) are calling on the government to provide security to journalists.

A police station was also attacked during a rally in Lahore Lower Mall area.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, other Ministers and groups have strongly condemned the attacks.

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Posted by on Friday, March 4, 2016