South Asia News
Clinton "outraged" by slaying of Pakistani minister
Mar 2, 2011, 17:48 GMT
Washington - US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she is outraged by the murder Wednesday of Pakistan's only Christian cabinet minister and warned of growing intolerance toward religious minorities.
'I was shocked and outraged by the assassination,' Clinton told a Senate committee, noting reports that the killing was carried out by extremists linked to al-Qaeda.
Shahbaz Bhatti, a minister for minority affairs, was gunned down outside his parent's home in Islamabad. Bhatti was an advocate for amending Pakistan's blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for making derogatory remarks about the prophet Mohammad or the Koran.
'This was an attack not only on one man but on the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds,' Clinton said. She said had recently met with Bhatti and found him to be a 'very impressive, courageous man.'
'He was a patriot. He was a man of great conviction. He cared deeply for Pakistan, and he had dedicated his life to helping the least among us,' she said.
Bhatti's killing followed the January slaying of Punjab's governor, who had also criticized the blasphemy law.
'The intolerance toward minorities, particularly religious minorities, that we are seeing not only in Pakistan but elsewhere in the region ... is a matter of deep distress to me personally and to our government,' Clinton said.
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