PRESS RELEASE by Asia Evangelical Alliance March 3, 2011
Asia Evangelical Alliance (AEA) is deeply grieved and shocked at the assassination of Pakistan’s cabinet minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
The sole Christian in the Pakistan’s government cabinet, Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down by militants outside his widowed mother’s home on March 2, 2011. Shahbaz became the second high-profile opponent of the blasphemy laws to be killed in the last two months. Earlier on January 4, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a liberal politician who was gunned down in the capital by one of his guards in Islamabad.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, General Secretary of the Asia Evangelical Alliance, said “Both men had actively campaigned to change blasphemy laws in Pakistan that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. Their deaths have created a vacuum in the secular leadership of the country.”
“We appeal to the Pakistani government to take appropriate measures to secure the rights and safety of the lives and property of the citizens of the country, especially the religious minorities in Pakistan.” he added.
A press release by the World Evangelical Alliance, stated that “The killing of Minister Bhatti underscores the peril, religious minorities in Pakistan are facing as a result of the blasphemy law and the culture of animosity this law continues to foster within the country.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws were originally framed by the Asian subcontinent’s British colonial rulers but were toughened in the 1980s during the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who pushed for a more austere brand of Islam.
Human rights groups have long warned that the laws are vaguely worded and open to abuse because people often use them to settle rivalries or persecute religious minorities.
China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: [email protected]