Monday, July 26, 2010

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities Affairs, receives violent threats

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, is under violent threats from an extremist Islamic organisation.
In a media statement this week, an extremist organisation issued a direct warning at Mr Bhatti that he will be ‘beheaded’ if he insists on the repeal of the blasphemy laws and demanded that Mr Bhatti be ousted from the Federal Cabinet and National Assembly.
The threats came following a hard-hitting press conference held by Mr Bhatti in response to the murder of two Christian brothers, Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel, falsely accused of blasphemy (a case being closely monitored by CSW). Mr Bhatti made strong calls for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often misused to target Christians and other religious minorities.
As yet, the government hasn’t responded to these threats, but CSW contacts on the ground are adamant that behaviour of this kind should not be tolerated by the state and await a firm response.
Those of you who attended the CSW London Conference in 2009 will remember hearing Mr Bhatti’s moving speech in which he spoke openly about the risks he faces speaking up for religious minorities in Pakistan. You will also remember his passionate plea for us to take one minute every day to pray for him. In light of these latest threats, please uphold him in your individual and church prayers.
Please pray:
• For God’s protection, strength and comfort for Mr Bhatti in the face of violent threats.
• That the threats made by this organisation will come to nothing and that God will turn the hearts of those involved who seek to do harm.
• That the government would intervene to support Mr Bhatti, denouncing the threats made against him and providing greater security measures for Mr Bhatti.
• For the family of the two Christian brothers who were murdered and all those who are speaking up on their behalf.
Thank you for all you do to support those persecuted for their faith.
The CSW team



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