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Mosque leader praises extremist killer

Mumtaz Qadri
Mumtaz Qadri

The religious head of Scotland's biggest mosque has apparently praised an extremist who was executed after murdering a politician.

Glasgow Central Mosque imam Habib ur Rehman is said to have made favourable comments about assassin Mumtaz Qadri.

Qadri is a polarising figure in Pakistan who was hanged in February for the murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who opposed Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws.

Fundamentalists view him as a martyr but others see him as a crazed extremist.

The imam said a series of Whatsapp messages about Qadri in which he reportedly called the killer a "true Muslim" had been "taken out of context" and were about his opposition to Quadri's hanging and the Pakistani justice system.

Lawyer and activist Aamer Anwar accused the imam, who condemned the Brussels bombings, of "rank hypocrisy".

He told BBC Scotland many people within the community were scared the views would "filter down the Muslim community and radicalise our children".

In a statement, the imam said the messages had been "misconstrued".

He said: "Mumtaz Qadri's execution is condemned as it is not in accordance with due process nor is it in accordance with Islamic teachings and principles.

"Capital punishment on this particular occasion was inappropriate and any expressions of sympathy or compassion are extended in my capacity as a private individual and not in any professional or public capacity."