Ten years after his assassination, various world leaders have praised the life and death of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Pakistan cabinet minister killed after defending religious minorities persecuted under the country’s strict blasphemy law.
His relatives, collaborators, and victims of persecution praised his example and urged continued work.
“My beloved brother, Shahbaz Bhatti, was willing to risk his own life in his fight for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan,” said Peter Bhatti. “He challenged the forces of violence and darkness who threatened him daily, and refused to be silent… Some of us must take small sacrifices in the fight for justice and equality. My brother Shahbaz Bhatti made the ultimate sacrifice of his life.”
“I am here to share that giving up and letting his enemy win is not an option. It is the duty of all of us to carry on his mission and vision,” said Peter Bhatti, who now chairs the Canada-based advocacy group International Christian Voice.
He was among the many speakers at the March 2 online memorial for Bhatti hosted by the Religious Freedom Institute.
Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, served as Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs from 2008 to 2011. He advocated for religious minorities and spoke out against the misuse of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws as a pretext to persecute minorities.
He faced increasing death threats in 2010 after he showed support for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy that year. Bibi would remain in prison on death row until her acquittal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in October 2018.
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