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A sad day in Pakistan

Yesterday was a sad day for Christians, the nation of Pakistan, and the world. Pakistan’s leading Christian, minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, was murdered in a hail of bullets as he left for work.

Bhatti had worked tirelessly, against the tide, for the rights of Pakistan’s minorities. In particular he had labored for the repeal of the infamous blasphemy law that is used against them at will by the majority Muslims. Not two months ago, the governor of the Punjab province was assassinated, by his own bodyguard, for opposing the blasphemy law, so Bhatti knew his life was in immanent danger. He had asked for secure housing, but had been given the run-around. On this particular day he had told his bodyguards to meet him at work. That his assassins took advantage of that opportunity suggests an inside job.

That wouldn’t be surprising, because a large portion of the Pakistani people actually approve of the death penalty for insulting Islam’s prophet.

Bhatti was a 42 year old Catholic who devoted his entire life to minority rights. He forewent marriage, because he believed it would be unfair to subject a family to the dangers of his work. A few weeks before he died, Bhatti recorded a video tape in which he spoke of his devotion to Christ and to his calling, and of his understanding of the cost of bearing the cross. He asked that the tape be released after his death.

A few hours after Bhatti was killed, a gunman stormed onto a bus in Germany and murdered two American servicemen, wounding others. The gunman was a Muslim from Kosovo, one of the nations the US had gone to war for in the 1990s, precisely to help Muslims that were being mistreated by Christians there. As he executed the victims, the gunman cried Allah akbar . The full sense of that is, “our God is greater”.

Last evening I turned to al Jazeera, English, to see how they would cover these stories. I watched the live feed and I scoured the web site. The Germany story was covered without mention of the assailant’s Islamic war cry. The assassination was not covered at all, not even in print. What may be the end of Pakistan’s last shot at civilized normalcy did not even merit a mention.

Al Jazeera is actively campaigning to break into the lucrative – and influential – American cable market. As with the story of the sexual assault on Lara Logan by a crowd in Cairo’s Tehrir Square two weeks ago, as they reportedly cried “Jew! Jew!”, yesterday’s stories evidently were considered a little too inconvenient to air, or in the German case, to air fully.

The Islamic world is being radicalized. The radicals read their Koran and then act. Islam brooks no dissent, and allows no questions. It is a religio-political system that demands absolute submission, with any lapse being punishable by death. And so the most moderate and reasonable elements are being ruthlessly eliminated, leaving the radicals in charge. The president of Pakistan issued this statement yesterday: “This is a concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan”. Indeed. And the government, which has forsworn blasphemy law repeal, is powerless to do anything about it.

Christians in Pakistan are a tiny minority in a nation headed for state-sanctioned barbarism. They are being brutalized, and they are fainting for lack of relief. It is a painful thing, but we must join in solidarity with them, and add our faith to theirs.

And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”-2Chr 14:11

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

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