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Pakistani Christian leader: death threats won’t stop me speaking out

By on Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Shahbaz Bhatti pictured in Washington DC in 2009 (Photo: CNS)

Shahbaz Bhatti pictured in Washington DC in 2009 (Photo: CNS)

Pakistan’s leading Catholic politician has said that death threats will not stop him speaking out against the country’s blasphemy law.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities and the first Christian to hold a cabinet post in Pakistan, has received multiple death threats. He said during a trip to Canada: “I have been told by pro-Taliban religious extremists that if I will continue to speak against the blasphemy law, I will be beheaded.” But he said his faith gave him strength.

“As a Christian, I believe Jesus is my strength. He has given me a power and wisdom and motivation to serve suffering humanity. I follow the principles of my conscience, and I am ready to die and sacrifice my life for the principles I believe,” he said.

Mr Bhatti spoke in Ottawa while on a trip to raise awareness for his campaign to reform the country’s notoriously strict blasphemy laws, which most recently were used against Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for “insulting” Islam. Mrs Bibi says the allegation was invented by a neighbour to settle a score, a common complaint about the blasphemy law, and she is now in hiding. Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.

Public figures have been scared to criticise the blasphemy laws since the assassination of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, by one of his bodyguards last months. Taseer had protested at the death sentence given to Asia Bibi and supported reform of the law.

On Monday it was announced that Mr Bhatti would retain his position in the cabinet following a reshuffle, despite calls by Islamists for him to be removed.

  • Karmenu of Malta

    The final event of martyrdom does not usually depend on the martyred person, even though the latter would have exposed himself to martyrdom by professing and defending his faith. So it is clear that saintliness is better judged by one’s preparedness to undergo martyrdom and one’s conscious defiance of the risk in defence of the christian message. My conclusion is that Shahbaz Bhatti is a saint; and any eventual martyrdom would not add anything to his saintliness but would simply go to prove it to us lesser mortals and to admit him to the home of the Lord.

  • http://twitter.com/FreeAsiaBiBi FreeAsiaBiBi

    we really appreciate yr support espcially in the case of asiabibi.thank you sir Bhatti.

  • Lauren

    Hero.

  • Bonydiver

    We pray May Bhatti strength and love in his devotions to our Lord.

  • A.A. JOSE

    Hi brethren, Let us pray to the Lord Jesus to give strength and protection to Mr.Bhatti to continue His work. May God Bless Mr.Bhatti. Best Wishes from A.A Jose, India

  • Robert Wyett

    Why has Pakistan not been suspended from the Commonwealth until it comes out of the Bronze Age and scraps this law? Why do we or any other civilised nation continue to play cricket with a country that threatens to execute a person for expressing a view on belief? Why do we only apply moral relativism to Islamic nations and turn a blind eye to their rottenness? We didn’t accept the cultural context of Pretoria’s racialism afterall.

  • Anonymous

    …a dark day, indeed….sigh!

  • Karmenu of Malta

    It is with tears in my eyes that I read news of the assassination of St Shahbaz Bhatti on Wed 2 Mar 2011.

  • A.A. JOSE

    It is with deep pain and anguish that I hear the news about the gruesome killing of a true follower of our Lord Jesus Christ today. It is unfortunate that his worst fear has come true. Mr.Bhatti preferred to die for his faith and I am sure he is in Heavan today. My heartfelt condolence to his bereaving family, relations, friends and the entire Christian community in Pakistan. It is high time for developed countries like the U.S.A. U.K.,France.etc., to take concrete steps to stop anti-Christian tirade of the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in general. May the soul of Mr.Bhatti rest in eternal peace. From A.A. Jose., India