Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet minister, Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated today in Islamabad, when he was attacked in his car. The gunmen sped away from the scene but left pamphlets behind.
According to the pamphlets the attack was a joint operation by the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Fidayan-e-al-Qaeda, and they assassinated the minister because of his public opposition to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law imposes penalties, up to execution, for criticism of Islam or comments that are seen as offensive to Muslim religious sentiments. The law has come under renewed scrutiny after it was used to order the execution of Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi for what coworkers say were “derogatory comments about Mohammad.”
Bhatti is the second high profile assassination in Pakistan over the past few months related to the law. Punjabi Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard on January 4, also because he opposed the law.
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