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Pakistani churches mourn assassinated Christian minister


BANGALORE, India (RNS/ENInews) Christian schools across Pakistan shut down March 3 for a three-day protest of the assassination of the country’s Minister for Religious Minorities.

The call for the action came at an ecumenical meeting chaired by Archbishop Lawrence Saldana, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan.

Church leaders said if Pakistan becomes a “killing field” of people “who exercise their freedom of conscience and expression,” then “criminals trying to take charge of the country” will be emboldened.

The church leaders also declared the following Sunday, March 6, a day of prayer and fasting to mark the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, the government’s sole Christian minister.

A critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which makes criticism of the Prophet Muhammad a capital crime in the Muslim-majority nation, Bhatti last November initiated a clemency petition for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman currently in prison on blasphemy charges.