Assassination of Bhatti Outgrowth of Pakistan's Blasphemy Law
The brutal assassination was an outgrowth of that country’s blasphemy law, which fuels extremism and violence rather than keeping the peace.
Threats against his life were widely known, but Minister Bhatti continued to courageously advocate against the forces of violent extremism and the blasphemy law.
The Commission extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Minister Bhatti. He was our friend. He will be missed.
We believed he was Pakistan’s brightest light of hope for the advancement of freedom of religion and human rights more broadly.
Who will now take up his work? Do the highest levels of Pakistan’s government have the resolve, courage, and leadership to do so? To date, they haven’t demonstrated those qualities.
The assassination today of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan – a true hero for human rights and religious freedom for all – illustrates how barbaric that country’s system of blasphemy laws really is. Blasphemy laws don’t keep the peace, but embolden extremists.
After the murders of Salman Taseer and now Shahbaz Bhatti for their advocacy against the blasphemy law, President Zardari must find the political courage to enact meaningful reforms, or Pakistan may well be lost.
The United States and the international community need to urge Pakistan in the strongest terms to respect the human rights of all its citizens, bring the murderers to justice, and amend this deeply flawed law.
Hopefully Pakistan and other countries will learn this lesson before any more human rights heroes are killed.