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March 2, 2011

Assassinated Christian Pakistani Official 'Knew the Meaning of the Cross'

Topics: Pakistan, Understanding Islam

There a brave men, and there are very brave men. Shahbaz Bhatti, murdered today in Pakistan for being a Christian and a vocal opponent of Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws,
is of the latter.

From the AP (via The Blaze):

Assailants purportedly sent by al-Qaida and the Taliban killed the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal Cabinet Wednesday, spraying his car with bullets outside his mother's driveway. It was the second assassination in two months of a high-profile opponent of blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam.

The killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Roman Catholic, further undermines Pakistan's shaky image as a moderate Islamic state and could deepen the political turmoil in this nuclear-armed, U.S.-allied state where militants frequently stage suicide attacks.

The Vatican said the assassination shows that the pope's warnings about the danger to Christians in the region are fully justified.

Shahbaz Bhatti was well aware of the danger he faced at the hands of the Islamists and "left a video-taped message with the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Al-Jazeera satellite TV station to be broadcast in the event of his death" - in which he says he "knows the meaning of the cross":

In the farewell statement, Bhatti said he was threatened by the Taliban and al-Qaida, but that this would not deter him from speaking for "oppressed and marginalized persecuted Christians and other minorities" in Pakistan. "I will die to defend their rights," he said on the tape. "These threats and these warnings cannot change my opinions and principles."

Despite the threats, Bhatti, who had been assigned bodyguards, was without protection when he visited his mother in the capital of Islamabad on Wednesday afternoon, police said. The politician had just pulled out of the driveway of the house, where he frequently stayed, when three men standing nearby opened fire, said Gulam Rahim, a witness.

Two of the men opened the door of the car and tried to pull Bhatti out, Rahim said, while a third man fired his Kalashnikov rifle repeatedly into the dark-colored Toyota, shattering the windows. The gunmen then sped away in a white Suzuki Mehran car, said Rahim who took shelter behind a tree. Bhatti was dead on arrival at an area hospital, while his driver was not harmed.

In leaflets left at the scene of the shooting, al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban Movement in Punjab province claimed responsibility. They blamed the government for putting Bhatti, an "infidel Christian," in charge of an unspecified committee, apparently referring to one said to be reviewing the blasphemy laws. The government has repeatedly said such a committee does not exist.

"With the blessing of Allah, the mujahedeen will send each of you to hell," said the note, which did not name any other targets.

Government officials condemned the killing, but made no reference to the blasphemy law controversy.

Take the time to read the entire piece.

As Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari, is reported in the article to have said, "This is a concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan," ... "The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan." Yet the government's silence on the the blasphemy law controversy speaks volumes about the Islamist influence on the Pakistani government and the unlikelihood of blasphemy laws being banned in Pakistan.

A very brave Christian man has been murdered by followers of the so-called "religion of peace and tolerance." I await the outcry from those "moderate" Muslims we keep hearing about, with bated breath. Going by what we've seen in the past, it will be a long wait.

Posted by Richard at March 2, 2011 9:29 AM

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