"Bhatti spent his life as an advocate for Pakistan's beleaguered Christians and other minorities that live in the misery under Pakistan's Islamist supremacism." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Director
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy
, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, March 2, 2011 /Christian Newswire
/ -- IRD mourns the brutal slaying of the only Christian cabinet member in Pakistan's government. Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minister for Religious Minorities, was gunned down today outside his home in Islamabad.
According to Ecumenical News International, before escaping, the assassins dropped leaflets around the scene that stated Bhatti was murdered due to his opposition to the country's blasphemy law that makes criticism of Mohammed or of Islam a capital crime. The pamphlets said the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda were responsible for the slaying. As the head of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, and as a cabinet minister, Bhatti worked tirelessly to defend the rights of Christians and other non-Muslims, as well as Muslims victimized by the blasphemy law.
Bhatti's assassination follows that of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, who was killed in January after he expressed support for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who is imprisoned and sentenced to death on trumped-up charges of blasphemy. Taseer had campaigned to reform the law.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
"This is a terrible tragedy. Shahbaz Bhatti was my friend, and I am shocked and deeply grieved by his death. He was one of the most courageous men I know.
"Bhatti spent his life as an advocate for Pakistan's beleaguered Christians and other minorities that live in the misery under Pakistan's Islamic supremacism. Now, with his murder, the Christians and other vulnerable minorities are left with no voice in the government of Pakistan.
"For Bhatti's sake, we must be more vigilant than ever to intercede for them. Rest in Peace, brother in Christ, and Rise in Glory."
The Institute on Religion & Democracy works to reaffirm the church's biblical and historical teachings, strengthen and reform its role in public life, protect religious freedom, and renew democracy at home and abroad. www.TheIRD.org