Slain Pakistani minister says he's prepared to die in video recorded before his death
"The forces of violence, militant band organizations, Taliban and al-Qaeda -- they want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan..."
A video released by al-Jazeera English shows a tired but defiant-sounding Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti, reportedly filmed four months ago, talking about his own assassination and saying that he is ready to die to defend the rights of his community.
On Wednesday, Bhatti was gunned down in downtown Islamabad. The Post's Karin Brulliard writes:
The assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti represented another severe blow to Pakistan's beleaguered moderates, whose voices are increasingly drowned out by those of violent Muslim hardliners. The shooting came two months after the killing of Punjab province governor Salman Taseer, who, like Bhatti, argued that laws making insults to Islam's prophet Muhammad a capital crime were wrongly used as tools to persecute religious minorities.
Though there was no claim of responsibility for the killing, fliers found scattered on the road near the scene bore the names of what appeared to be two Islamist militant groups -- the Al-Qaeda Organization and the Pakistani Taliban Punjab. The fliers condemned Bhatti as an "infidel, a cursed one" and said others who demonstrate "support of blasphemers" would meet the same fate.
In the video, Bhatti references the "blasphemy law," saying that his criticism of it has angered the violent forces in Pakistan but that he will not back down. The blasphemy law makes it a crime for anyone to make any negative comment about Islam. The Telegraph created a timeline of violent events surrounding the battle over the blasphemy law, starting in November when Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death for making derogatory comments about the prophet Muhammad. Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in January after voicing support of Bibi and criticizing the blasphemy laws.
"Shahbaz Bhatti's ruthless and cold-blooded murder is a grave setback for the struggle for tolerance, pluralism and respect for human rights in Pakistan," said Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan-based representative for Human Rights Watch, Karin Brulliard reports.
| March 2, 2011; 11:18 AM ET
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