02.03.11

Candles lit for Pakistan Minister as Bishops condemn assassination

Candles were lit for murdered Pakistan minister, Shahbaz Bhatti on Friday when local Asian Christian groups met for a memorial service at St Cuthbert’s Birkby led by Bishop Tony Robinson,the Bishop of Pontefract.

Shahbaz Bhatti
The Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten and the Bishop of Pontefract, Tony Robinson condemned the assassination of Mr Bhatti who visited this Diocese just last September to talk about the plight of minorities in his country and to meet with Asian Christian groups here.

Candlelit vigil for Shahbaz Bhatti Bishop Tony, who chairs the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pakistan Focus Group said the local Asian Christian community were deeply saddened by his death and wanted to mark this terrible tragedy.

“It was a great shock to hear he had been murdered in cold blood by extremists just days after being sworn in to the new Government of Pakistan, “ said Bishop Tony. “He worked tirelessly as a Christian for minorities and spoke out in favour of the repeal and reform of the blasphemy laws which were used so arbitrarily against Christians. His death will not stop the calls for justice and freedom of speech which is the right of every human being,” he added.

On Friday evening a memorial service to remember his life and work was held at St Cuthbert’s, Birkby, Huddersfield for the local Asian Christian community. On Thursday 17 March 2011,  at 6.30pm in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster next to Westminster Abbey in London a service of remembrance will be held in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mr Yaqub Masih,  President of the UK Pakistan Christian Concern said: “It is a very black day for the freedom of minorities in Pakistan when a Christian is martyred for standing up for human rights and freedom of speech. We pray for Mr Bhatti and his family and supporters at this difficult time,” he added.

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