Death of Pakistani Leader Stuns Many New Yorkers

The assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, by one of his own armed guards Tuesday is hitting home for Pakistanis in New York.

Qudus Malik, an attorney in New York and volunteer for a Muslim group, said members of the Pakistani community told him they were shocked by the news of the governor's death.

"I think a lot of people feel that they have lost a friend when it comes to promoting the rights of minorities as well as just the civil dialogue in Pakistan," Malik said.

Taseer was a vocal, secular governor, who fought for the rights of women and minorities in Pakistan. He was also a vocal opponent of Pakistan's so-called blasphemy laws, which Malik said can carry harsh penalties for those who make statements deemed offensive against Islam.

"One of the concerns that people in the U.S., I think, have, is that this is going to really hurt and maybe even silence the few voices that were speaking up against these laws," Malik said.

The main suspect being held in Taseer's slaying objected to his opposition to the blasphemy laws, according to The Associated Press.