One of the governors of Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated yesterday. The reasoning for this is twofold - first, Taseer has long fought efforts by conservatives to drive society to the right, using humour and essays to push for moderate statesmanship. Second, there's been recent controversy (I think I linked to it in one of my last few entries without comment) over efforts to loosen the anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan (a Christian woman may face death over an argument in which she insulted Islam otherwise) - Taseer was involved in this. I may have only known Taseer's name and little more about him before his death, but I am nontheless saddened to hear about it given the context. It makes me worry about the future of a society where the span of the political divide is so broad that large groups of people have no faith in the worthiness of the others, enoughso that violence of this kind is likely.
Let us also not forget Mohammad Ali Abtahi, victim of the last presidential elections in Iran. As a prominent figure, his expression that the election was stolen landed him in prison where he was beaten, a false confession extracted, and where he was given a six-year prison sentence for treason.
Like many remarkable people, they would not be as remarkable in western societies - they have views that would make them very regressive compared to our political norms. Nontheless, we mourn their fates because they laid the foundation for what we consider a better world. Their societies need more people like them (particularly Pakistan).