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People carry the coffin of the murdered Catholic politician Shahbaz Bhatti after a funeral Mass in Islamabad, Pakistan (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

But the chances for reform of the Pakistani blasphemy laws are now looking slim

Shahbaz Bhatti pictured at the US bishops' conference headquarters in Washington (Photo: CNS)

Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, had received death threats from extremists but refused to stop speaking out

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

Shahbaz Bhatti, the first Christian to hold a cabinet post in Pakistan, vows to continue opposing blasphemy law despite threats

Pope Benedict XVI pictured during an audience with ambassadors today (AP Photo/Alessia Pierdomenico, Pool)

In state of the world address Pope Benedict says threats to religious freedom abound, even in the west

An Egyptian Coptic Christian lights candles during Christmas Mass held at the St. Marc and the Virgin Mary Coptic church,in Lebanon  (AP Photo / Bilal Hussein)

Certainly something very striking is going on: are there here, really, reasons for hope?

Protesters demand the release of Asia Bibi and an end to Pakistan's blasphemy law (Photo: CNS)

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran made the comment after meeting President Zardari in Pakistan

AsiaNews is urging people who oppose the death sentence on Asia Bibi to write to the Pakistan president, Asif Ali Zardari, pictured with Gordon Brown at a news conference in New York (Darren Staples/PA Wire)

If Ireland has to accept external interference for economic aid, why not Pakistan?

Pakistani Christians protest against the killing of two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy earlier this year (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Pope Benedict XVI expresses ‘spiritual closeness’ to 37-year-old woman convicted on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan

Pope Benedict XVI asks that the Pakistani government release Asia Bibi and expresses his spiritual closeness to her and her family

A woman studies the Bible at St Mary of Celle parish in Berwyn, Illinois (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Morning Catholic must-reads: 12/11/10

A daily guide to what’s happening in the Catholic Church