Friday, June 22, 2018

Pakistani officials disavow minister's bounty on anti-Islam filmmakers

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan ­— Pakistan's government on Sunday distanced itself from a federal minister who offered up to $100,000 for killing the maker of an anti-Islamic film that sparked violent protests by Muslim groups around the world.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour announced his intent to put up the bounty Saturday, a day after a wave of unrest sparked by the film swept through Islamabad and other major cities in Pakistan, leaving more than 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. One of the filmmakers, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is an Egyptian Coptic Christian who was living in Southern California but has gone into hiding.

A 14-minute trailer for the film released on YouTube portrays the prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and a fraud. On Saturday, Bilour told reporters in Peshawar that he would be willing to face arrest for announcing the bounty.

Bilour's remarks triggered a strong disavowal from members of his party, the Awami National Party, which is aligned with President Asif Ali Zardari's ruling Pakistan People's Party, as well as from top government leaders. A spokesman for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the government had disassociated itself from Bilour's comments.

The video trailer triggered massive protests worldwide.

In Pakistan, advertisements featuring U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video failed to discourage thousands of angry Pakistanis from rampaging through the streets of Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and other cities on Friday in some of the worst popular unrest that the country has seen in years.

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