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Former Islamist seeks to turn the tide of religious extremism in Pakistan

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Taseer had angered many people because of his defence of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Lawyers hailed Taseer's killer as a hero, tossing rose petals at him after he was arrested. More than 500 lawyers offered to defend him for free.

"The way that the murderer was treated as a hero openly and brazenly, that's an indication," Nawaz said.

Just this month, Pakistan authorities in the southern city of Karachi were caught off guard by the shootings of polio vaccination workers, saying they had not expected attacks in areas so far from Taliban strongholds.

Signs of tolerance of the Taliban appear even when hotels are blown up and Pakistanis die, Nawaz said. "There's a side-stepping, there's 'oh that couldn't have been the Taliban because why would they kill other Muslims, it must be America trying to make the Taliban look bad.'

"We're a long way from people being able to name and shame the perpetrators, and we're even further away from people disassociating themselves from the aims," he added.

The idea for establishing Khudi as a social movement came from the Islamist way of organizing people.

Islamist groups radically changed public opinion in the Middle East by setting up social movements and sending members into every strata of society – journalism, engineering, medicine, law, politics – carrying the Islamists' ideas, Nawaz said. Arab socialism, which dominated public opinion in the 1950s and '60s, was completely obliterated by Islamism in the 1980 and '90s.

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