"I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak for me and say that I am a follower of Jesus Christ."
– Shahbaz Bhatti (September 9, 1968 – March 2, 2011)
"I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given His own life for us. I know what is the meaning of [the] Cross ... I'm ready to die for a cause ... These threats and these warnings cannot change my opinions and principles."
– Shahbaz Bhatti, four months before his martyrdom
Bhatti's close colleague shared the [above] video with Al Jazeera saying that Bhatti had requested him to do so in the eventuality of his assassination because "it is with the Muslim world I want to share the message of love. That is the only message that can bring the Muslim world out of the circle of hate and killings".
|Shahbaz Bhatti standing with Martha Bibi who was unjustly accused of blasphemy in 2007|
– Shahbaz Bhatti 2007
|Shahbaz Bhatti with Asia Bibi’s daughters, Sidra and Ashi, at his office|
|Sidra and Esham, daughters of Aasia Bibi, listen to Shahbaz Bhatti|
– Shahbaz Bhatti 2010
- Shahbaz Bhatti 2011
Bhatti said fatwas, or religious decrees, had been issued calling for him to be beheaded, by extremist clerics in the country who were allowed to publicly spread messages of violence with impunity."I thank God for giving me this opportunity to continue my struggle for the oppressed minorities in Pakistan."
“The government should register cases against all those using hate speeches,” said Bhatti, who insists he will work as usual despite the threats.
“I’m not talking about special security arrangements. We need to stand against these forces of terrorism because they’re terrorising the country.
“I cannot trust on security…. I believe that protection can come only from heaven, so these bodyguards can’t save you.”
– Shahbaz Bhatti 2011
President Asif Ali Zardari confirms Shahbaz Bhatti as Minister of minorities, after the cabinet reshuffle that took place yesterday following the resignation of the staff of the federal cabinet presented in recent days by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani."Christians and other minorities are citizens of Pakistan and have the same rights as any other citizen, because our ancestors sacrificed their lives for this country".
According to sources close to the presidency, the government has confirmed Bhatti only after strong pressure from the international community concerned about the recent cases of violence against minorities because of the blasphemy law. A young Christian man was killed in recent days in Ghakkar Mandi (Punjab), while Asia Bibi, the young Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy who is still waiting for her appeal to be heard in the Court of Lahore.
– Shahbaz Bhatti 2011
“As a Christian, I believe Jesus is my strength. He has given me a power and wisdom and motivation to serve suffering humanity. I follow the principles of my conscience, and I am ready to die and sacrifice my life for the principles I believe.”
– Shahbaz Bhatti 2011
For the bishop of Islamabad, it is a sad and bitter day for the entire country. He remembers the minister as a “devout Catholic” who lived under “constant threat”.
“It is a sad incident, a sad day not only for minorities” but also “for humanity,” said Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi as he spoke to AsiaNews, after hearing the news about the coldblooded murder of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. “This should be an eye opener for minorities and the government. How much more blood will it take to realise that enough is enough,” he said.
As he remembered Shahbaz Bhatti’s precious work on behalf of Catholics and other minorities, Mgr Anthony could not stop speaking of such a “sad incident,” a bitter day not only for minorities but for mankind as well.
The prelate knew the minister’s everyday schedule. “Bhatti’s daily routine was that he used to go to meet his mother, pray with her. He used to call me and ask me to pray for him every morning,” the bishop said.
Badly shaken by the murder, he went on talking about Bhatti. “I remember him as a child; he regularly attended the Church; he was passionate since childhood. He was under threat and the government did not provide sufficient security.” He “was a brave man, a man of courage, he took a stand for the minorities,” the bishop of Islamabad reiterated.
“When he took the oath for the new cabinet,” after President Ali Zardari had it reshuffled, “he said he would fight till the last drop of his blood. He proved himself, stood firm and paid the price by his blood."