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Christians Demand Immediate Arrest of Shahbaz Bhatti’s Killers in Lahore

ICC Note

Shahbaz Bhatti, the sole government minister in Pakistan government, was killed by Muslim radicals for opposing the country’s blasphemy laws. His killers are still at large.

By Jawad Mazhar

04/03/2011 Pakistan (ANS)-About 2,000 Christians from all walks of life and various political and religious affiliations, protested in front of the Lahore Provincial Assembly Hall Lahore, on Sunday April 3, 2011, demanding that police arrest the suspected Islamist killers of Christian Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti.

Mr. Bhatti, who was the first Federal Minister for Minorities from 2008 until he was assassinated on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad.
He was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Cabinet. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for his killing and called him a blasphemer of Muhammad.

The noisy rally was organized by the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) and many carried pictures of the slain Bhatti and also chanted anti-government and anti-police slogans accusing the latter of not doing enough to arrest the killers who are still at large.

Among the slogans they shouted at the top of their voice which included “Zalimoo hissaab doo” (The fundamentalists would have to pay for their cruel demeanor), “Shahbaz teray khoun say inqlab aye gaa” (The sacrifice of Shahbaz Bhatti would lay a foundation stone for revolution) and “C’ian, B’ian band kerro” (Repeal the Blasphemy Laws).

Christian protestors as a previous rally
The demonstrators thronged the roads leading to the Punjab Assembly and were led by Christian provincial legislator of Punjab, Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, and other eminent Christian elders from APMA and other political groups.

Mr. Chaudhary, who spoke the crowds, urged Pakistani’s law enforcement agencies to “immediately bring the killers to book.” He also said that the government should “repeal the blasphemy laws” and by so doing, would “accomplish the noble cause of our dear leader.”

In an Interfaith Harmony Dialogue conference, held before the rally in the Holiday Hotel, Islamabad, newly appointed member of National Assembly Michael Javed and Tahir Naveed Chaudhary, addressed 1,500 laymen and clerics of almost all faiths, including moderate Muslim clerics, and strongly censured the recent desecration of a Koran by a U.S. pastor.

Chaudhary said, “A handful of Islamist militants cannot destroy the peace, harmony and prosperity of Pakistan.”

It is noteworthy that Michael Javed has replaced the slain Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, who is viewed as a martyr by Pakistani religious minorities.