Thousands have marched in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, to mark the first death anniversary of an Islamic extremist who assassinated a liberal provincial governor in 2011.

Mumtaz Qadri shot Salman Taseer dead in 2011, after the liberal politician opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and called for the exoneration of Christian woman Asia Bibi who had been charged with desecrating the Quran and sentenced to death.

Taseer enraged religious extremists when he called for the blasphemy law to be amended.
The majority of the more than 100 Pakistanis who are charged with blasphemy each year ate Christians and other minorities. And the law of often used to settle personal scores.

Qadri was convicted of Taseer’s murder and hanged in prison on February 29 last year, sparking protests from hardline Sunni Muslims, who hailed him as a hero.

But protesters defied a government ban on rallies glorifying Qadri, and on Wednesday took to the streets in Barakaho, the suburb where he lived, in a show of support.

Qadri’s gravestone – guarded by police – has become a shrine, and visitors must pass through a metal detector before they can pay their respects to him.

Islamabad is on high alert after a series of terror attacks over the past few months. The Taliban and other Islamic militants have carried out multiple suicide bombings in recent weeks, killing more than 125 people.