Brampton (Agenzia Fides) - In the Canadian city of Brampton, near Toronto, a public park has been named after Clement Shahbaz Bhatti (1968-2011). The Catholic Pakistani politician was killed by terrorists on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad. The mayor of the Canadian city of Brampton, Patrick Brown, presided over the ceremony, during which the "Shahbaz Bhatti Park" was inaugurated, which is to commemorate the former Pakistani minister from now on. "I am proud to officially open Shahbaz Bhatti Park in Brampton. Bhatti was a true symbol of religious freedom. We will never forget Shahbaz's legacy, courage and sacrifice," Brown said in his speech. "He gave his life to promote a Pakistan where the rule of law, justice, freedom and equality are principles that are respected and lived".
The City Council and the entire population of the city of Brampton, where a community of Pakistani emigrants resides who sponsored the project, recognized Shahbaz Bhatti and acknowledged his efforts towards interfaith harmony.
"This park honors his legacy and serves as a reminder of the importance of interfaith harmony, acceptance and inclusion in communities like Brampton," said a City Council statement dedicating the Davenfield Circle green space to the Pakistani minister.
Shahbaz Bhatti was the first Catholic MP to be appointed Federal Minister for Minority Affairs in the Pakistan People's Party-led government in 2008. In 2011 he was shot dead in Islamabad in an assassination attempt claimed by the terrorist movement Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which had already threatened him for his criticism of the blasphemy law and for his defense of the Christian woman Asia Bibi, accused of blasphemy wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. The woman, who was later acquitted by the Supreme Court in third instance, immigrated to Canada, home to a thriving community of Pakistani emigrants (about 215,000 people) and also some members of the Bhatti family, including Shahbaz's brother, Peter Bhatti, who heads the NGO "International Christian Voice". The NGO helps asylum seekers and refugees who are victims of religious persecution and supports their resettlement in Canada. To commemorate Shahbaz Bhatti's martyrdom, Pakistanis in Canada hold a memorial service every year to preserve his legacy and faith. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/8/2022)