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Pakistani minister: poverty and ignorance are breeding grounds for violence against Christians

Catholic World News - December 27, 2011

Poverty and ignorance feed the flames of intolerance against Christians in Pakistan, according to a Christian federal minister there.

Paul Bhatti, who is a special adviser to the prime minister for religious-minority affairs, told the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano: “If we don’t succeed in eradicating poverty and ignorance in our country, then we will not be able to combat the phenomenon of religious intolerance.”

Bhatti said that Pakistan’s laws against blasphemy have been exploited as a tool against Christians. But he pointed out that the victims of the blasphemy laws—the Christians prosecuted on questionable charges—have generally come from impoverished areas. These victims, Bhatti said, have been “targets of those with the intention to promote hate and division between religious communities.”

Bhatti’s brother, Shahbazz Bhatti, who served as the government’s minister for minority affairs, were killed in March after he suggested changes in the blasphemy laws.

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