International

Pakistan's Only Christian Government Minister Assassinated

A relative of Shahbaz Bhatti looks at his damaged car at a hospital in Islamabad. i i

A relative of Shahbaz Bhatti looks at his damaged car at a hospital in Islamabad. Anjum Naveed/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Anjum Naveed/AP
A relative of Shahbaz Bhatti looks at his damaged car at a hospital in Islamabad.

A relative of Shahbaz Bhatti looks at his damaged car at a hospital in Islamabad.

Anjum Naveed/AP

The only Christian member of Pakistan's federal cabinet was killed in a shower of bullets from three men just outside of his mother's house Wednesday in Islamabad.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the country's minister of minority affairs, was a critic of the Pakistan's blasphemy law. The law makes it a crime to make negative statements about Islam, its prophet or the Quran.

The LA Times reports on the attack:

Before escaping, the gunmen scattered pamphlets on the wet pavement that stated Bhatti was assassinated because of his opposition to the country's blasphemy law. The pamphlets said the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda were responsible for the slaying.

Bhatti, a 42-year-old Roman Catholic, is the second prominent political figure to have been assassinated as a result of opposition to the Pakistan's blasphemy law. Punjab province Governor Salman Taseer was killed by one of his own bodyguards in January.

Al Jazeera posted a video of Bhatti to YouTube in the wake of his killing in which he talks about his stand against the blasphemy law and the threats to his life.

Al Jazeera/YouTube

The killing is another blow to supporters of human rights and religious tolerance in Pakistan. The Guardian quotes on activist as saying that supporters of tolerance are all marked for death:

Dismayed human rights activists said it was another sign of rising intolerance at hands of violent extremists. "I am sad and upset but not surprised," said the veteran campaigner Tahira Abdullah outside Bhatti's house. "These people have a long list of targets, and we are all on it. It's not a matter of if, but when."

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