Church leaders condemn assassination of Pakistan minorities minister

Christians in the UK expressed shock and grief at the news that Shahbaz Bhatti has been assassinated.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minorities minister and the only Christian member of the cabinet, was shot dead by gunmen while on his way to a meeting in Lahore on 2 March. He had dared to defy death threats he received for his efforts to reform the country’s blasphemy law.

The Evangelical Alliance, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and Bishop Azariah of the Church of Pakistan have all condemned the murder.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “This further instance of sectarian bigotry and violence will increase anxiety worldwide about the security of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan, and we urge that the Government of Pakistan will do all in its power to bring to justice those guilty of such crimes and to give adequate protection to minorities.” Bishop Azariah said that Christians in Pakistan feel “absolutely unsafe” in the present situation.

The Evangelical Alliance says these laws are being used to target Christians in particular. Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: “It is outrageous that the Pakistan Government seems unable to protect its minorities, and in particular Christians.”

Dr Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance, met Shahbaz Bhatti in person at a meeting of the UK Christian Muslim Forum.

In response to today’s news, Dr Horrocks said: “The Pakistan Government appears to be turning their backs on the problem. They repeatedly make concessions to those who would intimidate minorities, seeming at best passive, and at worst complicit, in the face of persecution of Christians and others.”

 

The Evangelical Alliance has the full story here.

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