Shahbaz Bhatti; free speech martyr – UPDATES

Via Allahpundit, who called the video “haunting”:

Washington Post coverage here.

Writes Margaret Cabaniss at Inside Catholic:

Last month I blogged about Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic politician in Pakistan who had been courageously speaking out against the anti-blasphemy laws in that country, even in the face of death threats. “I follow the principles of my conscience, and I am ready to die and sacrifice my life for the principles I believe,” he said at the time.

Horribly, maddeningly, that sacrifice has come to pass: Bhatti was murdered this morning in Islamabad.

[G]unmen opened fire on his car while travelling to work through a residential district.

Mr Bhatti, 42, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), had just left his home when at least two gunmen ambushed his car, police official Mohammad Iqbal said. He was rushed to the nearby Shifa hospital, but was dead on arrival. . . .

The first Christian to hold a cabinet post in Pakistan, Mr Bhatti spoke about the threat facing him last month, during a visit to Canada to raise awareness about his country’s blasphemy laws. He said: “I have been told by pro-Taliban religious extremists that if I will continue to speak against the blasphemy law, I will be beheaded.”

It’s so easy for us to take our own security and freedom for granted; that someone could expect to be murdered simply for speaking out against unjust laws is practically incomprehensible to us.

Indeed it is. That’s why I am rather grateful that the Supreme Court ruled today that even funeral protestors are protected by the first amendment. If we start picking away at what speech is allowed and what is not, we will be doomed.

RIP, Shahbaz Bhatti — a Catholic martyr for freedom, which cannot exist without free speech, and witness to Christ.

Condolences to his family. May God be with them.

As Allahpundit noted, this is the second man killed for the “crime” of daring to oppose blasphemy laws.

Vatican Condemns Murder

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  • Brian Cook

    May God grant the repose of Bhatti’s soul.

  • Greta

    It would be interesting if Pope Benedict made a decision to take up the cause of his becoming a martyr saint. Seems like he gave up his life for his faith. That would show those in the Muslim faith that there is a life with God within the Catholic Church and a certainty to that life.

    So much for the religion of peace and tolerance. I bet we see thousands of muslims marching in protest over this murder…right.

  • Victor

    May his soul rest in peace until Jesus returns with 100% Spiritual Body Cells to judge the living and the dead.

    My sympathy and prayers go out to his family and friends.

  • Phaedruscj

    Mr. Bhatti is indeed a martyr.

    Your unfortunate decision to connect his actions with the actions of the Phelps cult is disappointing.

    Come to our church any Sunday, Topeka Mater Dei parish Holy Name church almost any Sunday for our 9 o’clock Mass. Maybe you would feel differently once you have to endure the filth that pours forth from these people as you walk into church from the public sidewalk that they are allowed to occupy. It isnt just a silent protest with obscene signs held by small children. It is a verbal assault using the most profane language known to anyone. Tell me how to explain the meaning of the words they are using to my 3 year old granddaughter and my 5 year old grandson as we go to church. It is easy for you to admire the Phelps exercise of the first amendment when you don’t have to experience it first hand. People have a right to free speech but the constition is also supposed to protect my right to practice my religion. I woukd also point out that we are losing parishoners that we can’t afford to lose because of this harassment. The seniors are afraid of the Phelps zealots so they don’t come to church at Holy Name anymore.

  • Anonymous

    I have no admiration at all for the Phelps people. But I do understand that an opposite ruling by the court would have had consequences down the line, for pro-life Catholics, who would be told they were no longer free to peacefully pray across the street from an abortion mill, with the Phelps case being the precedent. Better to allow everyone their say, no matter how much we hate it, than to start deciding who may say what, where. That always comes back to bite everyone.

  • Anonymous

    “Indeed it is. That’s why I am rather grateful that the Supreme Court ruled today that even funeral protestors are protected by the first amendment. If we start picking away at what speech is allowed and what is not, we will be doomed.”

    Sadly, in Mr. Bhatti’s case, the second amendment might be more applicable.

  • Emkay

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  • Manny

    Oh my God, I did not hear. What a horror. This man is a hero! He is a martyr. This is horendous. God bless this man.

  • KY Catholic

    He is a martyr and, I fear, only one of many. May God receive his brave soul.

  • jeff

    The first victims of Islam are arabs. The second are Christians and Jews.

  • dry valleys

    This is why it is essential for the state to be secular. The fact is that these blasphemy “laws” should be swept away in Pakistan and wherever else such hate-filled “legislation” exists and it should never have entered anyone’s head in any country that they should be in place.

    In the first place, in Pakistan, the “laws” are used to enact private feuds, and few of the accused have actually done what they are said to have done. I don’t for one second consider Asia Bibi to have done what she is said to have done, for example.

    Secondly, and far more importantly, if they want to blaspheme they are entitled to. I can insult the “prophet” Mohammed, and I certainly can and will point out practices of Islam and any other religion that I object to. I have the right to draw cartoons (or portray Jesus covered with ants or pissing, or whatever it is this time). The fact that I’m not going to is irrelevant, the right should exist.

    Pakistan will continue to be a desperately unhappy land until such a time as it reforms its laws and meaningfully deals with extremism. Did you see that even some of the more right-wing Muslims, such as this Inayat Bunglawala, in the western world are now deciding they support a secular state because they see for themselves how badly this turns out?

    At a time when the views of Shabaz Bhatti, Salman Tasser, Sherry Rahman, etc. become normal, then we will be happy. I do think that people of a secular, humanitarian nature should be aiming primarily at Islam, as being the furthest away from our views and aspirations of any religion and culture. It is a worldwide concern. I am going out no (drinking actually) but for this Women’s History Month it would be worth compiling a list of women in the Muslim world who have stood up to tyrants, such as this Sherry Rahman, Malalai Joya, and what have you.

  • dry valleys

    William Vague had this to say:

    “Shahbaz Bhatti stood for tolerance & religious freedom. A brave man killed in a cowardly & sickening manner”

    I have contacts with a lot of British Asian progressives. For some time they have expressed the view that Pakistan is seriously on the brink. Very unpleasant place and I fear that unlike in Arab countries there is little popular disagreement with the vileness.

  • doc

    If Europe is ever to become Catholic again, it will be through the blood of many martyred converts from Islam to Catholicism.

  • Only_A_White_Martyr_So_Far

    Wow, his video made me cry. Shahbaz Bhatti, pray for us!!! We need your intercession now more than ever.

    I just wish Jesus would return and open a can of whoop*ss. Guess the martyrdoms have to escalate to a bloody floor before that happens.

  • Only_A_White_Martyr_So_Far

    typo: to a bloody flood

  • Ali Palh

    Space for human rights, tolerance and pluralism in Pakistani society is shrinking day by day..Its reason is only the continues rule of dicatotors who promulgated anti-minority laws, not in love of Islam, but just to perpetuate their tenures and unfortunately some of the western governmensts supported them in this regard…..Still majority in Pakistan is tolerant and law abiding but scared of these elements who have guns. They can come forward, raise their vocies, encounter terroism and contain extremism if they get adequate support from outside.

    Ali Palh, RightsNOW Pakistan.