TLP makes its online presence felt on Mumtaz Qadri’s death anniversary

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An unusual hashtag #WeSaluteMumtazQadri briefly reigned the Twitter trends panel recently in Pakistan and amassed nearly 10 thousand tweets within the first two hours.

Around 1 PM on Thursday, a number of Twitter accounts associated with rightwing political party, Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan started inviting their supporters to help the hashtag #WeSaluteMumtazQadri trend on Twitter.

It perplexed Twitter users as it was neither the birthday nor the death anniversary of Mumtaz Qadri. However, some of the contributors to the trend explained that the day was Qadri’s death anniversary according to the Islamic calendar.

The self-confessed murderer, Mumtaz Qadri had opened fire on former Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer, the very person he was deputed to protect as a member of the elite force of Punjab Police, on January 4, 2011. Qadri was sentenced to death on February 29, 2016

The campaign, apparently coordinated by the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan itself repeated all the messages that essentially form its narrative on blasphemy as well as the ideological basis of the party’s violent brand of political activism.

  1. Justifying Salman Taseer’s Murder

The major part of the campaign focused on justifying the murder of Salman Taseer for showing sympathy towards an alleged blasphemer Aasia Bibi, who was later found innocent by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and calling for review of the blasphemy laws. They propagated TLP’s perception about how Salman Taseer was a ‘blasphemer’ and deserved to be eliminated.

Messages like 295-C is the Red Zone were widely disseminated which implied that any attempts to review or reform the blasphemy related laws will be dealt with violence.

  1. Eulogizing/ celebrating a hero

Twitter users who contributed to this hashtag hailed Mumtaz Qadrii and vowed to carry forward his legacy. He was showered with praise for his ‘bravery’ and ‘love’ for the Prophet (PBUH) and how he ‘set an example’ for others.

Photos and videos of his little son dressed in religious attire and taking part in religious practices were also shared widely, a vivid allusion to continuation of his violent legacy.

  1. Exhibiting violent tendencies

The contributors to the hashtag openly exhibited their approval for violence in the name of religion and their tendency to involve themselves if there were ‘need’. They gloated over how Mumtaz Qadri fired not less than 27 bullets on Salman Taseer.

Hero of Muslim Ummah #TLP salutes you

Twitter user Hasan Khan said every blasphemer will be shot with 27 bullets to continue  Mumtaz Qadri’s mission. #WeSaluteMumtazQadri

The hashtag soared to the top in no time but lost steam even quicker. In two and half hours, it had fallen two places to number three and later to number six. It eventually exited the trend panel in a few hours. It is typical of coordinated online campaigns that are deceptively propelled to the top by mutually associated fake accounts in order to propagate political agenda.

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