MPAC Condemns Assassination Of Christian Minister In Pakistan And Will Address Religious Freedom In Geneva

March 3, 2011

The Muslim Public Affairs Council condemns the assassination of Pakistan's Federal Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s only Christian cabinet minister. Religious and ethnic strife in Pakistan is at dangerous levels and must be addressed by religious, civic and government authorities.

SEE: “Critic of Pakistan Blasphemy Law Shot and Killed” (CNN)

“We pray for the Bhatti and his family and encourage leaders in Pakistan to work towards addressing the root causes that has lead to unprecedented amounts of political and religious violence” said Salam Al- Marayati, MPAC President.

This is the second high profile assassination within two months in Pakistan, both of individuals who publicly criticized the country's blasphemy laws.

In January, Gov. Salman Taseer of Pakistan's Punjab province was assassinated after publicly challenging the merits of the law that purports to protect Islam from slander but is seen by many as a means to persecute minorities.

SEE: “Governor of Pakistan's Punjab Province Assassinated” (CNN)

Pakistan's Blasphemy Law was brought to the forefront in November 2010, when a Christian woman from the Punjab province was sentenced to death for defiling Prophet Mohammed's name during an argument with a co-worker.

The Blasphemy Law was introduced in the 1970s and amended in 1986 to include the death penalty for those accused of speaking against the Prophet Muhammad.

Next week, Al-Marayati is going to Geneva to meet with UN Ambassadors and international human rights organizations to address the issue of religious freedom and free speech.

Freedom of expression and faith are Islamic principles that are respected in Islamic texts and theology. It is of utmost importance that these ideals are respected and developed within Muslim communities worldwide. 

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