Islamabad, Jan 06 (Agencies): The assassin of the outspoken Pakistani Governor was showered with rose petals by lawyers and people as he made his appearance in a court room to face murder charges, laying bare increasing radicalisation of the Pakistani society.

Mumtaz Qadri, the police bodyguard who killed Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, appeared unrepentant in court, where waiting lawyers showered him with rose petals and others in the crowd slapped his back and kissed his cheek as he was led out amid heavy security, British newspaper—The Guardian—reported.

The paper said that religious organisations applauded the murder of the moderate Governor and hailed his killer as 'Ghazi', religious warrior underscoring Pakistan's journey from a nation defined by moderate Islam to one increasingly influenced by fundamentalists.

The internet in Pakistan has been flooded by fan pages for Qadri, with one facebook page attracting over 2,000 followers before being taken down and there were even small demonstrations in favour of the killer in the country's turbulent North-west.

While the big mainstream political parties condemned the murder and tearful thousands attended his funeral, the big and small religious outfits declared that he deserved to be killed for his views.

Guardian quoting police officials said that Qadri, 26, was a known radical in the police service who had previously been declared unfit by superiors for guarding VIPs.

Qadri told interrogators that he was proud to have killed a blasphemer.

"We pay rich tributes and salute the bravery, valour and faith of Mumtaz Qadri," acclaimed Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, one of the biggest organisations of Barelvi, representing 500 religious scholars.

The assassination has further deepened turmoil in nuclear-armed Pakistan, where the economy is barely scraping by and suicide attacks by Islamic extremist groups are mounting.
The Government is struggling with the collapse of its ruling coalition.

"Words like liberal and secular have become demonised in the nation," Guardian said quoting political leaders.