Obama condemns assassination in Pakistan

A Christian woman mourns the death of Pakistan's government minister for religious minorities Shahbaz Bhatti outside a mortuary in Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. Gunmen shot and killed Bhatti, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure threatened by Islamist militants for urging reform of harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)
A Christian woman mourns the death of Pakistan's government minister for religious minorities Shahbaz Bhatti outside a mortuary in Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. Gunmen shot and killed Bhatti, the latest attack on a high-profile Pakistani figure threatened by Islamist militants for urging reform of harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash) (B.k.bangash - AP)
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The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 2:30 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he's deeply saddened by the assassination of the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal Cabinet, who was shot outside his mother's home in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Assailants from al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban Movement in Punjab province claimed responsibility, calling the victim, Shahbaz Bhatti, an "infidel Christian."

Bhatti, a campaigner for human rights causes, had been aware of threats to his life. Obama said Bhatti, in the president's words, "fought for and sacrificed his life for the universal values that Pakistanis, Americans and people around the world hold dear" - including rights to free speech and religious freedom.

Obama said that whoever committed the crime should be brought to justice, and people who share Bhatti's vision of tolerance and religious freedom should live free of fear.



© 2011 The Associated Press