Statement — Minister Kenney issues statement marking the anniversary of the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities’ Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti

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Ottawa, March 2, 2013 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement to commemorate the second anniversary of the death of Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities’ Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti.

“Shahbaz Bhatti was a brave and indefatigable leader in the promotion of religious freedom and the protection of minority rights. As the first and only Christian minister in the Pakistani government, he was acutely aware of the discrimination faced by members of religious and ethnic minority groups from all walks of life. As the Minister for Minorities’ Affairs, he worked tirelessly on their behalf.

“His courageous work in protecting religious minorities included a principled condemnation of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often used to discriminate against religious minorities. Although he knew his prominent public actions and opinions endangered him, he carried on without fear.

I had the honour of knowing and befriending Shahbaz Bhatti, and of hosting him in Canada mere weeks before his shocking murder two years ago today. His death was a tragic loss to Pakistan, and to all those around the world who share his commitment to promoting religious freedom and protecting minority rights.

“Last year, in recognition of the importance of his life’s work, our Government posthumously awarded Shahbaz Bhatti with the John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award.

“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I extend my sincere condolences to Shahbaz Bhatti’s family and friends, and to all the people of Pakistan. On this solemn anniversary, I also wish to reiterate Canada’s strong support for the values he upheld. Freedom of religion and belief is a fundamental principle of our own democracy, and of all democracies.”

For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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