Pakistani assassin’s execution prompts protests
THE murderer of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, has been executed in Pakistan. Mumtaz Qadri, who was Mr Taseer’s bodyguard at the time, was convicted of killing the prominent liberal Muslim five years ago because he had defended Asia Bibi, a Christian who has been on death row since 2010 (News, 7 January 2011). Mr Taseer was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. The execution prompted demonstrations and protests by hardline Islamists. About 100,000 people attended his funeral, and the authorities closed schools and sealed off government buildings in expectation of violence.
Coptic teens given five years in jail for ‘insulting Islam’
THREE Coptic Christian teenagers in Egypt have been sentenced to five years in prison, and a fourth given indefinite detention in a juvenile facility, on charges of blasphemy, insulting Islam, and fomenting sectarian strife. The boys were arrested after a mobile-phone video which showed them taking part in a mock beheading and saying Islamic prayers was leaked online last year (News, 5 February). Christian Solidarity Worldwide — which says that charges of “contempt for religion” and “insulting Islam” are on the rise in Egypt — has demanded that the teenagers be pardoned, and said that the trial violated due process reportedly since the video was not viewed in court.
New communications director for Anglican Communion
THE former BBC journalist Adrian Butcher has been appointed as the Anglican Communion’s new director of communications. Mr Butcher, who lives in Sussex, has worked as a news producer for BBC radio and TV, as well as for newspapers. He is taking over from Jan Butter, who left for a new position with World Vision International last year.