Methodist statement on the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships for theMethodist Church in Britain, said: "The killing of Shahbaz Bhattiis deeply shocking. He is known to have understood the potentialconsequences for his stand on the interpretation of Pakistan'sblasphemy law, but as minister for minorities he was clear that itwas his obligation to promote tolerance, acceptance and justice forPakistani citizens regardless of their religious affiliation.

"His assassination fuels fear of growing sectarian bigotry andviolence, not just in Pakistan but worldwide.

"It is a cause for concern, not only because of its implicationsfor the safety of religious minorities, but also because of thequestions it raises about the will or the ability of the Governmentof Pakistan to defend the rights and freedoms of all itspeople.

"We urge the Government of Pakistan to do all in its power to bringthe perpetrators of such violence to justice. It is profoundlyimportant that we all work for a society in which respect is givenand difference honoured, where people can be sure of theirsecurity.

"Meanwhile we assure the family, friends and supporters of Mr.Bhatti of our deep sympathy, praying with them in their personaldistress. We continue to support all those working for justice andstability in Pakistan, whatever their faith. The Methodist Churchwishes to express its admiration for those who continue to avoidthe sin of silence in the face of such atrocities and urges prayerfor the government and people of Pakistan."