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ICC Note:

Christians across Pakistan gathered in churches yesterday to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti. Bhatti, who was killed by terrorists in 2011, remains the only Christian cabinet member in Pakistan’s history. During his time in office, Bhatti dedicated himself to fighting for the rights of Pakistani Christians and stood firmly against Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. In the end, it was his outspoken opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws and his public defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman still on death row for allegedly committing blasphemy, that put Bhatti in the cross hairs of Pakistan’s terrorists. All Christians, not just Pakistanis, should take time to remember Bhatti and the life he dedicated to fighting for the persecuted.   

3/3/2016 Pakistan (ICN) – There were special prayers in churches in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Khushpur and Sargodha and in many other places, as Pakistan commemorated Shahbaz Bhatti on the 5th anniversary of his assassination by a terrorist on 2 March 2011.

A Pakistani politician and elected member of the National Assembly from 2008, he was the first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs from November 2008 until his assassination in Islamabad. A Roman Catholic, he was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the only Christian in the Pakistan Cabinet. Today the press in Pakistan carries several editorials and commentaries recalling the dedication of the Catholic Member of Parliament, murdered for his defense of a Catholic mother Asia Bibi condemned to death for blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed.

Mohammad Sherani, head of the Islamic Ideology Council, a consultative body of the Pakistani government, declared: “I respect religious sentiments but I respect the Constitution of Pakistan and no one is above the law.” While the number of reports for blasphemy in the country is on the rise, in recent weeks Sherani has spoken of blasphemy laws being wrongly used, opening to possible preventative changes in the law.

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