Wednesday, March 2, 2011


SHOT DEAD, SPRAYED WITH 25 BULLETS - Self-described Taliban gunmen have shot dead Pakistan’s minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, an advocate of reform of the country’s blasphemy laws, in Islamabad.  Two assassins sprayed the Christian minister’s car with gunfire, striking him at least eight times, before scattering pamphlets that described him as a “Christian infidel”.  The leaflets were signed “Taliban al-Qaida Punjab”. Bhatti’s assassination was the second killing of a politician in Islamabad over blasphemy in as many months, following the assassination of the Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer outside a cafe a few miles away on 4 January.  Dismayed human rights activists said it was another sign of rising intolerance at hands of violent extremists.  “I am sad and upset but not surprised,” said Tahira Abdullah. “These people have a long list of targets, and we are all on it.”

The only Christian in Pakistan’s cabinet, Bhatti had predicted his own death. In a farewell statement recorded four months ago, to be broadcast in the event of his death, he spoke of threats from the Taliban and al-Qaida.  But he vowed not to stop speaking for marginalised Christians and other minorities. “I will die to defend their rights,” he said on the tape released to the BBC and al-Jazeera. “These threats and these warnings cannot change my opinions and principles.”  Last November Bhatti joined Salmaan Taseer in championing the case of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad.  The government later left Bhatti and Taseer politically isolated. Now both men are dead.

Assassins sent by Al Qaeda and the Taliban gunned down Pakistan’s only Christian minister in broad daylight in the heart of the capital Islamabad today.  Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Roman Catholic, was in charge of a committee to review the blasphemy law, and had declared “This law is being misused.  Many people in prison and are being killed extra-judicially.”  A branch of the Taliban who claimed responsibility for the death of this ‘blasphemer’ and ‘infidel Christian’, has warned: “We will continue to target all those who speak against the law which punishes those who insult the prophet. ... With the blessing of Allah, the mujahideen will send each of you to hell,” said in a note.  Again, religious intolerance and contempt for minorities who do not think like others has become headline of the news.

A new fear by name Islamaphobia is spreading in all corners of the world, not only terrifying non Muslims but also Muslims. These terrorists refer their source to holy Quran and eulogise their operation as a religious duty and divine order.  Interfaith advocates and moderates in Islam brotherhood have given a new vision to the sense of holy war “Jihad”. ... Anyhow these explanations are neither going to reach and reform the fundamentalists and their blind faction.   Being temperate is not just being amicable or away from problems. It requires the same intensity in a positive direction, without which, triumph over evil and restoration of peace will become unfeasible.  Moderate Muslims are very limited in number as well as verve. ... Islam needs to develop more interfaith forces to compete with its fundamental elements and we see lot of young and energetic moderates, functioning amidst threat and peril.

Śrīla S.A.R. Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swamy :
Acarya of Ramanuja Sampradaya
“International Conference on Interfaith” - “Culture, Philosophy, Literature and Religion”
7th and 8th Sep 2009 at Somaiya Auditorium, Mumbai, India. -

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