The increasing radicalisation of Pakistani society was today laid bare when mainstream religious organisations applauded the murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, earlier this week and his killer was showered with rose petals as he appeared in court.
Taseer was buried in his home town of Lahore. The 66-year-old was assassinated yesterday by Mumtaz Qadri, one of his police bodyguards, after he had campaigned for reform of the law on blasphemy.
Qadri appeared in court, unrepentant, where waiting lawyers threw handfuls of rose petals over him and others in the crowd slapped his back and kissed his cheek as he was led in and out amid heavy security.
The internet had already been hosting fan pages for Qadri, with one Facebook page attracting over 2,000 followers before being taken down, while there were small demonstrations in favour of the killer in north-west Pakistan.
While terrorist acts are generally associated with an extremist fringe, the gunning down of Taseer appeared to have significant support that reached into the heart of society.