Pakistan distances itself from anti-Islam filmmaker bounty offer
Published Sunday, September 23, 2012 9:58AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, September 23, 2012 1:30PM EDT
The office of the Pakistani Prime Minister has condemned a bounty of $100,000 offered by the country’s Railway Minister for the death of the maker of controversial anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims.”
Shafqat Jalil, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, told the BBC that the government has “absolutely disassociated” itself from the reward and comments made by Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour.
On Saturday, Bilour said he would pay $100,000 of his own money in exchange for the death of the film’s producers. He also urged the Taliban and al Qaeda to carry out their “sacred duty.”
"I will pay whoever kills the makers of this video $100,000," the minister said. "If someone else makes other similar blasphemous material in the future, I will also pay his killers $100,000.”
Bilour said there should be laws prohibiting insults against the Prophet Muhammad.
"I call upon these countries and say: Yes, freedom of expression is there, but you should make laws regarding people insulting our Prophet. And if you don't, then the future will be extremely dangerous."
The amateur, low-budget film was produced in the U.S. and an excerpt posted to YouTube. The film has prompted a number of protests -- some violent -- across the Muslim world.
The exact origins of the film are not clear, though the alleged producer of the promotional trailer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a U.S. resident living in California, has gone into hiding.
The minister’s bounty came just one day after 17 people are reported to have died in violent clashes in Pakistan between authorities and protesters angered by the film.
Meanwhile, angry reaction to the film has sparked a general strike in Bangladesh, where public transportation was halted and businesses and schools shut down Saturday.
The strike in Bangladesh, called as a protest over the police crackdown on demonstrations against the film, follows a massive protest in the capital Dhaka earlier this week.
Earlier this month, anger over the film led to attacks on Western embassies across the Muslim World.
U.S. citizens have been urged not to travel to Pakistan and a number of American embassies were closed on Friday due to security concerns.
France also shut its embassies in nearly 20 countries in the region on Friday, in anticipation of angry reaction to a series of caricatures of Muhammad that were published in a magazine.