Churches condemn killing of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan

By staff writers
2 Mar 2011

The Presiding Bishop of the ecumenical Church of Pakistan has condemned the brutal murder, by religious fanatics, of Shahbaz Bhatti on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad.

Bhatti, a Christian, was the Federal Minster for Minorities Affairs, and had spoken out publicly on the country's controversial blasphemy laws and on other issues impacting minority groups.

The statement from Bishop Samuel Azariah declared that "the Christian community are not only sad and hurt at this heinous act, but consider themselves absolutely unsafe in the present circumstances of Pakistan."

The bishop continued: "We do not have the freedom of expressing our point of view."

He also said that the Pakistan government had either lost will or control over groups and individuals "who freely go around killing leaders in the name of religion."

Bishop Azariah said the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are not only being misused, but are being actively abused by religious zealots.

"This is just another example of it," he said in relation to Dr Bhatti's death. "If this is not controlled neither will democracy, law and order or justice prevail in Pakistan. The authorities have failed to bring about fair justice to people who are doing such criminal acts in the name of religion."

The Bishop also asked people of faith in Pakistan why religion is being allowed to be distorted by a few, and why the majority are maintaining "the sin of silence"

Speaking to Ekklesia this morning, international lawyer, ecumenist and Middle East commentator Dr Harry Hagopian expressed horror and sadness at the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, who was due to visit London soon.

[Ekk/3]

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