Markus Löning, the Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, today (2 March) made the following statement in response to the assassination of Pakistan Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti:
“I was extremely shocked to hear about the heinous murder of Mr Shahbaz Bhatti. I had come to know him as a man who worked for religious freedom and the affairs of minorities in Pakistan with keen commitment and great personal courage. This brutal act is a major blow and represents a great loss to Pakistan society.
I call on Pakistan’s political and religious leaders to accept their responsibility now to help ensure that people of all religions can live together in peace and security in Pakistan. A constituent part of this responsibility is the duty actively to protect all minorities.”
Shahbaz Bhatti, himself a member of the Christian minority, had recently been campaigning particularly for a change to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. According to the penal code in Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment.