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Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Slain Pakistani minister says he's prepared to die in video recorded before his death

By Melissa Bell
shahbaz bhatti
Pakistani Christian protestors demonstrate against the killing of slain minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti. (Rizwan Tabssum/AFP/Getty Images)

"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.

By Melissa Bell  | March 2, 2011; 11:18 AM ET
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Shahbaz Bhatti's calls for religious freedom, his own firm convictions as a Christian and his deep concerns for human rights as a whole in Pakistan, make him an inspiring figure even after his tragic death. To my knowledge he made no derogatory comments against Islam, he only voiced the basic human right of religious freedom we all have. May the government of Pakistan and its peoples who truly seek truth and light, take swift action for justice against this outrage.

Any religion that would seek to attract or retain its followers through violence, intimidation, force or law is apart from the true spiritual law of faith, light and reason. I also call on U.S. government leaders and businesses to step up the cause of human rights and freedom, particularly in countries that call themselves “democratic”, only to blatantly over-run the basic human right of religious freedom and conscience. God bless Shahbaz and his family!! May his community continue to stand firm in their faith.

Posted by: Caleb3 | March 2, 2011 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The law of blasphemy is good for the country and we should neither attempt to amend or abolish it. The reasons are obvious, as to why it should be left as it is, since it brings harmony to the country - they have it in Britain, it works. It is the application of the law and the support of the terrorists by the CIA/MOSSAD and the Indian terror agencies that are causing the killing. No Muslim is allowed or would kill - the religious Ulema could never condone taking of life - unlike the Pope, The Anglican Bishops. They had consistently maintained a defeaning silence when the Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya were slaughtered by their crusading armies. It is stupid and highly dangerous to put the blame for the killing on the Madrassas or the religious organisations since they are the only one that provides relief to the poor in Pakistan. These so called Liberals in Pakistan are supporters of the West in disguise - they want to implement the Christian agenda in the state that was created to protect the Muslims from the cruelties and bigotries of the Hindus - look at the state of the Muslims in India today, there should be no doubt after the sentencing of 11 innocent Muslims to death by an Indian court. This article goes to prove that the foreign forces are supporting the terrorists in Pakistan and are not really concerned by Interfaith harmony - that harmony means slaughter of Muslims all over the world as well as torture and imprisonment of Muslims, without proper trials, in the USA - we must not forget Dr Afia Sidiqui. She is a vulnerable, innocent, woman that was first kept in a secret prison (raped and humiliated) and then denied justice. The Zionist controlled America and the Jewish killers of Western Europe, are trying to push the world towards catastrophic end.

Posted by: shazadaloan | March 3, 2011 5:36 AM | Report abuse

"the CIA/MOSSAD and the Indian terror agencies that are causing the killing. No Muslim is allowed or would kill - the religious Ulema could never condone taking of life"

shaz, though I respect many of the points that you make in your full post, the above statement stands out as a view of Muslims through rose colored glasses. Yes, the Christians, Jews, Hindu and even the CIA and many other religions and organizations are all guilty historically (some more recently than others...) of crimes in the name of righteousness, faith and (often misguided) tactics, you are actually saying that it was the CIA, or the Hindu that assasinated a Christian in Pakistan!?!?!? What evidence is there to back that up? This ranks as conspiracy theory or wild speculation at best. The fact that you say that a Muslim is not allowed to kill may be specifically stated in verse, but after all of the Peaceful Innocent Muslims that have been slain by Al Queda and the other Muslim Extremist groups, how can you make that statement? Are you saying that Osama Bin Laden is not practicing the Muslim faith? There are MUSLIMS that would kill YOU for stating such a thing, if they knew who you were. We can all go over history and beat the snot out of it and say how horrible everyone is, but the fact that it is history is best served to learn from it. Take the time to make the world a better place with a peaceful practice of your faith and don't let intolerance of other faiths guide you or negative history repeat itself. Peace Shaz

Posted by: mford7522 | March 3, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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