The most senior bishop of the Church of England has welcomed to his official London residence two Pakistani preachers who celebrated the killer of a politician who campaigned to protect the nation’s Christians. “Great to welcome Pakistan’s Shaykh Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman at [Lambeth Palace] today”, tweeted the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby last month.
The men reportedly discussed countering “the narrative of extremism and terrorism” and interfaith relations, and Mr. Welby uses the ‘Nasrani’ symbol in his Twitter name to show “solidarity” with persecuted Middle Eastern Christians.
However, the men he welcomed to his home are some of Pakistan’s most prominent supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed this year for murdering the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, for campaigning against the country’s brutal blasphemy laws used to target Christians.
Mr. Taseer, a liberal Muslim and businessman, also spoke out after the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minorities minister who was the only Christian in the government and was assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban.
The hate preachers embraced by the archbishop have been filmed praising Mr. Qadri as a “martyr” at his funeral, where crowds of hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate the killer and his attacks on “apostates”.
Both men have also been photographed meeting a man described as Mumtaz Qadri’s brother in Dubai.
Earlier this year, an Ahmadi Muslim shopkeeper from Glasgow, Asad Shah, was murdered for “disrespecting Islam” after he praised his “beloved Christian nation”, by a Bradford man who was also a dedicated follower of Mr. Qadri.
Despite this, the Home Office allowed the two hate preachers into the UK to spread their message, visiting cities and towns including Derby, Rochdale, Rotherham, Oldham, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle.
They have also met with Mohammed Shafiq, the allegedly “moderate” Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation.
The son of Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Taseer, recently told IB Times he was shocked the two preachers had been welcomed in the UK.
“These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in”, he said, continuing: “It’s countries like the UK and the US that claim they are leading the way in the war against terror [and] setting a standard. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?”
His brother, Shehryar Taseer, added: “They supported and incited my father Salmaan Taseer’s murder. The UK government should deport them and Pakistan should prosecute them for the incitement of violence under the terrorism act.”
“I find it disrespectful that a man like this has been entertained by the archbishop. My family has been on the front lines when it comes to inter-faith harmony and these people disrespect anyone and everyone who speaks about religious harmony.”
Since Mumtaz Qadri was executed for his crimes, he has found huge support among prominent Muslims here in the UK as well as becoming a cult figure in Pakistan.
The imam of Glasgow Central Mosque was just one of many to praise him, calling him a “brother” and “true Muslim”. A prominent imam from Bolton flew out to his funeral and a mosque in High Wycombe was accused of “hate preaching” after allegedly praising Mr. Qadri.