It takes a nation to protect the nation
The Religion of Interfaith Dialogue™ in the world’s most intolerant country claims another scalp. We’ll update as we hear more:
Pakistan’s Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, has died after gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital, Islamabad, hospital officials say.
He was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets, police said.
Mr Bhatti, a Christian, had received death threats after calling for changes to the controversial blasphemy law.
In January, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.
The blasphemy law holds a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths.
March 2nd, 2011
Mr Bhatti, 42, a leader of the ruling Pakistan’s People Party (PPP), had just left his home in the I-8/3 area of the capital when at least two gunmen ambushed his car, police official Mohammad Iqbal said.
He was rushed to the nearby Shifa hospital, but was dead on arrival, Dr Azmatullah Qureshi told the AFP news agency.
The gunmen escaped in a car after the attack, witnesses said.
Television footage showed Mr Bhatti’s vehicle riddled with bullet holes. Reports said it did not have a security escort.
No group has said it was behind the attack, but leaflets issued by Tehrik-i-Taleban Punjab, a branch of the Taleban in Pakistan’s most populous province, were found at the ambush site, according to the private TV channel Express 24/7.
Security has been stepped up on all main roads in Islamabad.
In January, Mr Bhatti told the BBC he would defy death threats he had received from Islamist militants for his efforts to reform the blasphemy law.
“I was told that if I was to continue the campaign against the blasphemy law, I will be assassinated. I will be beheaded. But forces of violence, forces of extremism cannot harass me, cannot threaten me,” he said.
A government spokesman condemned the assassination.
“This is concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan,” Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari, told the Associated Press.
“The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan.”
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued Qur’an 9:29
And the same fate will befall anyone else who makes a stand for common decency in this most violent, backward of states – consumed by rage and bile at anything non-Islamic.
These intolerant savages will not rest until they have poor Asia Bibi‘s head; and Pakistan’s Christian population cowering in permanent and abject fear and humiliation.
[Source: BBC News]
Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 30, 2011 / 10:01 am (CNA).- Terrorist groups in Pakistan are planning to assassinate Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s federal minister for religious minorities, because of his opposition to the country’s blasphemy law.
Bhatti is the founder and president of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a religious minorities network. He is also a Catholic.
The alliance told the Vatican-based news agency Fides that a Pakistani Secret Service report states it is “deeply concerned” by circulating news that an “imminent attack” on the minister is being organized. Bhatti has become a “number one target” because of his commitment to the abolition of the blasphemy law.
“Those close to the Minister need to protect him and ask the state to afford the minister maximum protection,” the Secret Service report continued.
The powerful terrorist organization Laskar-e-Toiba has already declared a death sentence upon Minister Bhatti. The new information confirms an actual plan is underway.
Bhatti told Fides his resolution was firm.
“Pray for me and for my life. I am a man who has burnt his bridges. I cannot and will not go back on this commitment. I will fight fanaticism and fight in defense of Christians to the death,” he said.
One Pakistan source deplored the inaction of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. It is not aligning itself with Bhatti and coming to his defense because it is being pressured by lobbying from fundamentalist Islamic parties.
The party is “leaving too much space to the fanatics in society: its leadership believes that its political survival depends in keeping the militant religious right happy,” the source told Fides. “However, in doing so, the party is losing its traditional nature: moderate, secular, popular and pluralistic.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy law came to be a prominent part of the national conversation after Asia Bibi, a Christian mother, was sentenced to death under it. She has been in prison for a year and a half and is presently in a secure cell to protect her from assassination attempts.
Tensions escalated even further when Punjab governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by one of his body guards who was reportedly angered by his opposition to the law and his support for Bibi.