Friday, September 23, 2011

Police admit extremist group behind Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder

Police admit the assassination
of Pakistan’s Minister of Minority Affairs
was an act of terrorism by the Taliban.
Last month, we reported that Christian leaders in Punjab province, Pakistan, rejected claims by investigators that the murder of Pakistan’s Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, was in relation to a land dispute with family.

Pakistan’s The Express Tribune reports that Islamabad’s senior police officer, Bani Amin Khan, has admitted that Bhatti was assassinated by Islamic extremist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Khan told the Senate standing committee that the TTP is indeed responsible for the “act of terrorism.”

Bhatti had criticized the country’s controversial blasphemy laws in relation to many cases of Christians being falsely accused of blaspheming Muhammad or the Qur’an, including the highly publicized case of Asia Bibi. Under the law, blasphemy is punishable with death.

Bhatti had received various threats from al-Qaida and the Taliban, but said in a video shortly before he died that he would continue standing up for the minorities.

“I’m ready to die for a cause. I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights. These threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles,” said Bhatti.

At the scene of his murder, pamphlets were found attributing the murder to the Pakistani Taliban. They warned of the same fate for others opposing the blasphemy laws.

Protests and appeals by Christian leaders in Pakistan are seeing fruit as the police change directions and are now turning their attention to seek out the real culprits.

Read The Express Tribune’s full article here. You can hear Bhatti’s comments regarding the threats he received here.

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