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Christians in the Muslim World

Shahbaz Bhatti, Remembering a Friend

I first met him in 2005, after the earthquake that hit the Islamabad area.



As president of the APMA association (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance), he was totally devoted to defending Pakistan’s marginalized communities and religious minorities.



A primary school teacher, he had made his life into an offer to the poor and those persecuted because of their faith. I was impressed by the way he replied when I asked why he would not become a priest. He said he wanted to be among the people, in direct contact with individuals and their problems, something which priests are often unable to do in his Country.



He had an intense and lucid faith, and the awareness of his forthcoming death. This is something he confirmed in a recent email, where he told me of his indefatigable struggle against the current blasphemy law, the reiterated threats made against him and the lack of support from his political party.



I am consoled by the thought that he was able to see the fulfilment of his lifelong desire to meet the Pope, which happened last year. I have met a witness to the faith. I have had the grace to get to know a martyr.