Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed for condemning Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, will be honoured on the first anniversary of his death with a memorial dinner in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Peter Bhatti

Memorial to honour slain Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti

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  • February 22, 2012

TORONTO - Assassinated Pakistani minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti gave his life for human rights, freedom and democracy. And to mark the one-year anniversary of his death, family, friends and supporters will gather to mark his legacy.

On March 2, International Christian Voice — the Toronto-based human rights organization run by Peter Bhatti, Shahbaz’s brother — is holding a memorial dinner at the Woodbine Banquet and Convention Centre in Toronto. Among those expected to be in attendance are Cardinal Thomas Collins, retired Pakistani Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha, who now lives in Toronto, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, along with representatives from human rights organizations and community leaders.

It’s important to continue Shahbaz Bhatti’s legacy and let the world know why he was killed, said older brother Peter.

“We want to let the world know there is a problem and we need their solidarity and support and not to give up,” he told The Catholic Register.

Pakistan’s only Christian minister, he was ambushed on the way to his Islamabad office March 2, 2011. He was targetted after he denounced his country’s blasphemy laws and defended a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges.

Along with dinner, the evening will include speeches and a video of Shahbaz Bhatti’s life, including footage from an interview where, in the face of threats, he said, “I believe in Jesus Christ who has given His own life for us. I know what is the meaning of the cross and I am a follower of the cross… I’m living for my community and suffering people and I will die to defend their rights.”

A year since the assassination, the situation for Christian minorities in Pakistan has not improved, said Peter Bhatti.

“After the assassination, there is more fear in the minority community. Nobody is raising their voice because everybody is scared for their life. So the extremism is growing even further.”

It’s important to support religious freedoms and human rights in whatever way we can, said Bhatti.

“I’m asking all communities to join hands with us and that we cannot give up against the terrorism and the extremism.”

To purchase tickets, contact Bhatti at info@internationalchristianvoice.com.

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