PM distances himself from the price put on filmmaker’s head
PAKISTAN’S prime minister has distanced himself from a government minister’s offer of a $100,000 (£61,600) reward for the killing of the filmmaker responsible for an online anti-Islamic video.
Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, the country’s railways minister, had said he would pay the reward out of his own pocket. He urged the Taleban and al-Qaeda to perform the “sacred duty” of helping locate and kill the filmmaker.
But yesterday a spokesman for prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf rejected Mr Bilour’s comments, which came just a day after more angry protests across Pakistan against the film Innocence of Muslims that left 21 people dead and more than 200 injured.
“This is not government policy. We completely dissociate [ourselves] from this,” Shafqat Jalil, the government spokesman said. Mr Jalil added that the prime minister would take up the issue with the head of the Awami National Party (ANP), a coalition partner.
“He [Bilour] is not a member of the [ruling] PPP [Pakistan People’s Party], he is an ANP politician and therefore the prime minister will speak to the head of the ANP to decide the next step. They are not ruling out action against him but say he will stay in his post for now.”
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the alleged producer of the film, was escorted by police out of his home in California earlier this month and is in hiding with his family, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Anti-US sentiment grew after a trailer for the film dubbed into Arabic was released on YouTube.
Mr Bilour, a member of the Awami National Party, a key partner in the fragile coalition government led by the PPP said on Saturday: “I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000.
“I also announce that if the government hands this person over to me, my heart says I will finish him with my own hands and then they can hang me.”
Zahid Khan, a spokesman for Mr Bilour’s political party, said the minister’s action was not representative of the ANP.
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised the recent violent protests, but said Western nations need to prevent insults to Islam.
“No one claims freedom of expression when they restrict racism. The same restrictions that are imposed on racism must be displayed against Islamophobia,” Mr Erdogan said. “Islamophobia is as dangerous as racism and is something that must not be tolerated.”
In the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Saturday, thousands of Islamist activists clashed with police who used batons and tear gas to clear an unauthorised protest. Thousands of people also protested on Saturday in Nigeria’s largest city, Kano. The crowd marched from a mosque to the palace of the Emir of Kano, the region’s top spiritual leader for Muslims.
About 200 students in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, chanted “Down with America” and “Long live Islam” in a peaceful protest. Some carried a placard that read, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.”
The US government has urged its citizens not to travel to Pakistan and its embassy has paid for adverts on Pakistani television showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the film.
Whilst US targets have borne the brunt of protests, anti-Western sentiment has been stoked by caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published this week in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine.
France took the decision to shut embassies and other missions in about 20 countries across the Muslim world on Friday.
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