Christians Protest in Pakistan

Shahbaz-Bhatti, Pakistan’s recently assasinated minister for minorities.In several cities across Pakistan, Christians burned tires at rallies on Thursday. They were gathered in response to the assassination of the minister for religious minorities. The minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was gunned down in Islamabad because he had publicly pushed for Pakistan to reform their laws, specifically the death penalty for insulting Islam. His death follows the fatal shooting of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer by his own bodyguard for similar statements. That incident may explain why Bhatti requested that his police and paramilitary bodyguards not follow him when he went to visit his mother.

After the government declared three days of official mourning, the Christians began to protest. In a city near the capital, surrounded by burning tires, hundreds of people chanted: “Anyone who commits injustice or oppression will have to answer for it.” Christians are a small minority in Pakistan (around 5%) who are generally poor and persecuted. While they protested and called for justice, however, Islamists responded in a less public fashion. Although the extremists had held public celebrations of Taseer’s death, this time they merely spread the rumor that the killing was part of an American plot. The grand mufti of Pakistan said “I am afraid that this could be an American conspiracy to defame the government of Pakistan, Muslims and Islam.” The Review hopes that the government of Pakistan manages to find the killers and bring them to justice. I for one doubt that the assassins were in any way tied to the United States.

J.P. Harrington