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Monday, 7 March 2011

Canadian Minister attends Islamabad memorial of Shahbaz Bhatti

Minister Kenney Attends Memorial for Pakistan's Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN--(Marketwire - March 4, 2011) - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement after attending memorial services in Islamabad for Pakistan's Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, and meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Minister for Interior, Rehman Malik.

"Today I attended a memorial for my friend Shahbaz Bhatti, along with Senator Salma Ataullahjan.

"It is always hard to say goodbye to someone you consider a friend. It is especially hard when that friend is killed in such a shocking and senseless way.

"Shahbaz was fully aware of the threats against him. And yet to be killed because of your beliefs and your courage in expressing them, is an outrage against all who believe in freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

"As the first and only Christian minister in the Pakistani government, he understood intimately the importance of protecting religious minorities. He worked tirelessly to defend religious freedom and human rights in Pakistan and around the world, not least through his public condemnation of his country's blasphemy laws.

"As Prime Minister Harper noted in his statement, Shahbaz 's murder is a loss to the people of Pakistan and all who shared his commitment to the promotion of tolerance and religious freedom in that country.

"I want to reiterate what was said in the House of Commons motion that passed unanimously earlier this week. The House called on the Government of Pakistan to take immediate action against those who would harm and threaten defenders of religious freedom and human rights.

"That action would perhaps help give meaning to the senseless killing of Shahbaz Bhatti. It would be a fitting legacy for a man whose message we must not forget."

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