Lahore, Feb 17(ANI): An upcoming Pakistani movie lauds extra-judicial killings in the name of Islam, in a grim reminder of last month's killing of liberal Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by one of his own bodyguards because of his support for the release of Pakistani-Christian woman Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges.
Both Taseer's assassin Malik Mumtaz Qadri and Tariq, the fictitious hero of Noor's film, are thickset men with bushy beards and dark, round faces, hail from the province of Punjab, the conservative hinterland, and both achieve hero status after committing murder.
Even the film's tagline carries the same chilling message backed by Qadri and his supporters: "Punishment for Blasphemers: Decapitation."
Still, director Syed Noor denies any similarity between his film-"Aik Aur Ghazi" ("One More Holy Warrior")- and Taseer's killing.
"My film has nothing to do with Salman Taseer," The Christian Science Monitor quoted Noor, as saying in an interview at his studio.
"The villain in my film claimed he was the prophet of Islam. Salman Taseer was just trying to help a woman," he argued, referring to Taseer's efforts to free Aasia Bibi from jail where she awaits a death sentence for blasphemy.
However, critics remain unconvinced, and argue that the film's expected commercial appeal is indicative of the growing acceptability of extrajudicial killings in the name of Islam.
Pakistani columnist and cultural critic Nadeem Farooq Paracha questioned: "He is making a fictional character who did the same thing as Mumtaz Qadri- how is it different? Where is the logic in that one?"
According to him, Noor's reputation as a "moderate Muslim" gives his work more credibility. He said that the Pakistani media are full of personalities who, while proclaiming to represent progressive values, often espouse extreme views.
"Such people are far more dangerous than those extroverted about their fundamentalism," said Paracha, adding, "These are people whose numbers have grown and who call themselves moderate Muslims: They are anything but [moderate Muslims]." (ANI)