Pakistan: Filmmaker's bounty 'not govt policy'

Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour called for the Taleban and Al-Qaeda to kill the maker of an anti-Islam film. File photo / AFP
Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour called for the Taleban and Al-Qaeda to kill the maker of an anti-Islam film. File photo / AFP

The Pakistan government has distanced itself from a $100,000 bounty offered by a cabinet minister for the death of the maker of a controversial anti-Islam film.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour invited members of the Taleban and Al-Qaeda to take part in the "noble deed", and said given the chance he would kill the film-maker with his own hands.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf rejected Bilour's comments, made on Saturday, a day after angry protests across Pakistan against the "Innocence of Muslims" left 21 people dead and more than 200 injured.

"This is not government policy. We completely dissociate (ourselves) from this," the spokesman told AFP.

More than 50 people have died in protests and attacks around the world linked to the low-budget film, which mocks Islam and the prophet Mohammed, since the first demonstrations on September 11.

The producer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is reported to be a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster, based in Los Angeles and currently out on parole.

US media reports say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified. Police questioned him before he went into hiding with his family.

Analyst and author Hasan Askari said Bilour, a member of the Awami National Party (ANP), was trying to keep ahead of public opinion in his northwestern home province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where anti-Western feelings run high.

"There is a common phenomenon of point scoring in Pakistan politics and Bilour wanted to show that 'we are not lagging behind any other group"' he said.

Fresh rallies were held across Pakistan on Sunday to condemn the movie, following protests on Friday which mobilised more than 45,000 people.

Some 200 members of the minority Christian community led by the Prime Minister's advisor on minorities affairs Paul Bhatti staged a rally in Islamabad condemning the anti-Islam movie.

The marchers carried the placards "We denounce the blasphemous movie" and "We express complete solidarity with Muslims in Pakistan."

The protesters, including women, also condemned an attack on a church in the northwestern city of Mardan during violence on Friday.

In the eastern city of Lahore, three separate were held by different Muslim sects on the road leading to the US consulate, witnesses said.

A total of around 2,500 people participated in the protests, police officer Abdul Kadir Qamar told AFP.

At one of the rallies, a little known Muslim cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi that a Karachi businessman had announced another cash award of 120 million rupees ($1.27 million) to any one who kills the maker of the anti-Islam movie.

He gave no name for the businessman nor did he provide further details.

Peaceful rallies were also held in Multan, Karachi, and Quetta.

- AFP

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