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Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Most Prominent Christian, Assassinated (Updated)

Minister for Minorities Affairs had predicted his death in a recent interview.

Taliban and al-Qaeda factions in Pakistan are claiming responsibility for the assassination of the only Christian serving in the Islamic state's government. Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, was shot outside his mother's home in Islamabad Wednesday morning.

Bhatti, who was Pakistan's Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, was well known for campaigning against the nation's strict blasphemy law and lobbying for the rights of religious minorities. Last year Bhatti made a video to be released in the event of his death. Embedded below, the video shows Bhatti saying that "the forces of violence" were prepared to kill him because "they want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan."

"I'm ready to die for a cause," Bhatti said. "I'm living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights. So these threats and these warnings cannot change my opinions and principles."

Johan Candelin, goodwill ambassador for the religious freedom advocacy group First Step Forum, said that he and Bhatti created the video during a December 2010 interview.

"It's sort of his testimony to the world." Candelin said. Candelin, who worked with Bhatti for about seven years and interviewed him several times, said that Bhatti had very much come to terms with the prospect of his own murder: "He said, 'I have not married because I know that I will be killed, and I am willing to be a martyr for Christ.' He said, 'I would even find it to be a big honor to be killed for my faith in Jesus Christ. I'm ready to give my blood for that.'"

People who knew him describe Bhatti as a rare figure: a Christian who earned the respect of many in the Muslim ...

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