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12/03/2018 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Pope Francis paid tribute to the legacy of Shahbaz Bhatti on November 30 while speaking to members of the Shahbaz Bhatti Mission Association. Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian, served as Pakistan’s Minority Affairs Minister from 2008 until he was assassinated in March 2011 by religious extremists in Islamabad.

In paying tribute to Bhatti’s legacy, the pope said, “One of the fruits of the sufferings of Christians is the multiplication of groups and associations — like yours — that build bridges of fraternity throughout the world, overcoming differences in language, culture and sometimes even religion.

In Pakistan, Bhatti continues to be remembered as a fierce leader of the country’s small and persecuted Christian minority. He fought for greater representation of minorities in Pakistan’s government and against the country’s notorious blasphemy laws.

Bhatti’s outspoken nature and his public support for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy, brought him to the attention of Pakistan’s extremists. Prior to being assassinated, Bhatti recorded a video in which he said, “I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us, and I am ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community … and I will die to defend their rights.

In March 2011, Bhatti was shot and killed by members of the Taliban while driving to his office in Islamabad.

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