Critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law assassinated

Shahbaz Bhatti Assasinated Video

Pakistan’s only Christian cabinet member was killed by suspected Islamic militants while leaving his home in Islamabad Wednesday morning. It was the second high-profile assassination this year of a critic of the country’s blasphemy law.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minority affairs, was traveling to attend a cabinet meeting when three gunmen opened fire on his bulletproof car, according to television reports. The circumstances of his assassination resembled the murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab who was gunned down in January. Both attacks appeared to be connected to their support for changes to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law.

Meanwhile, the Vatican immediately condemned the killing of Bhatti. In a statement, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said it was a “terribly grave new act of violence” that “demonstrates that the Pope’s insistent addresses regarding violence against Christians and religious freedom have been justified.”

Here’s a video report from Express 24/7, an English language television news channel based in Pakistan.