One Year Later, Shahbaz Bhatti Remembered
by Kristin Wright
March 2, 2012 marks one year since the tragic death of Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of parliament in Pakistan, and an ardent advocate for persecuted religious minorities in the predominately Muslim nation. In his capacity as Minorities Minister in Pakistan, Bhatti was a passionate voice for the oppressed, in spite of numerous threats to his life.
Scotland’s top Catholic prelate, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, has spoken out in memory of Shahbaz Bhatti, saying that he “was a truly remarkable hero whose legacy must live on in our own lives.”
Forty-two-year-old Shahbaz Bhatti was killed in Islamabad on March 2 of last year. Bhatti was leaving his mother’s home when his car was sprayed with bullets fired by Islamist militants. His gruesome death shocked the world, but Bhatti himself had predicted his own death at the hands of those who hated what he stood for: a Pakistan that offered religious freedom for all its citizens.
For Bhatti, the threat of death seemed to be a daily reality. In an interview posted by Al Jazeera, conducted only days before his death, Bhatti was asked about the threats he faced. He responded: "I am ready to die for a cause. I am living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights. These threats and these warnings cannot change my opinions and principles. I would prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise on these threats.”
Shahbaz Bhatti’s death followed the assassination of Salman Taseer, the governmor of Punjab province. Both men had been vocal in their support of the imprisoned Asia Bibi, a Christian woman facing death for the crime of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. It was speaking out against Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law that led to both men’s deaths…
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