March 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pakistan’s only Catholic government minister, who was assassinated by Islamic extremists yesterday, discussed his possible demise and offered his sufferings for the protection of the nation’s Christians and other religious minorities, in a video interview before his death.
Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic and Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities, was speaking at the end of an interview at an unspecified date before his murder, when he was asked: “Your life is threatened. By whom? And what sorts of threats are you receiving?”
“The forces of violence, militant band organizations, the Taliban, and Al Qaida. They want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan. And whoever stands against their radical philosophy, they threaten them,” Bhatti answered. “When I’m leading this campaign against the Sharia laws, for the abolishment of the blasphemy law, and speaking for the oppressed and marginalized persecuted Christians and other minorities, these Taliban threaten me.”
Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” which was openly opposed by Bhatti, has been used as a tool by Muslims to intimidate and persecute Christians and other religious minorities.
“But I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of cross, and I am following of the cross, and I am ready to die for a cause,” continued Bhatti.
“I am living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinion and principles. I prefer to die for my principle and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise on these threats,” he concluded.
Yesterday morning, Bhatti’s offering was fulfilled as he drove to work, reportedly without bodyguards, despite the risks he had taken in opposing Muslim extremists in Pakistan. He was gunned down by men who riddled his car with bullets, then left leaflets warning that others who oppose the country’s blasphemy law would meet the same fate.
According to reports the shooters were apparently associated with the Taliban and al-Qaida.
In an article published today, the BBC’s Orla Guerin recounted a phone call she received from Bhatti, who had been informed by security forces that there was an assassination plot against his life, just before his death. He said that despite the threat, there had been no increase in security.
“They say there’s a terrorist plot to assassinate me,” he said. “They’ve told me to be careful, but didn’t tell me anything else. I haven’t been given any extra security. It’s just the same as it has been since I became a minister.”
Guerin reports that “though his voice sounded weary, the minister’s commitment was unwavering.”
“I have struggled for a long time for justice and equality,” he said. “If I change my stance today, who will speak out? I am mindful that I can be assassinated any time, but I want to live in history as a courageous man.”
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