Pakistan’s government denied that it was involved in the bounty offered for the head of the film director who triggered violent protests across the Muslim world with his depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.
Increasingly violent demonstrations broke out in Arab and Muslim countries, with the latest erupting Friday on the “Day of Love for the Prophet Mohammed” in Pakistan where dozens were killed in clashes with the police. The crisis escalated when Pakistani railways minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour announced a $100,000 bounty in exchange for the “Innocence of Muslims” director’s head. Mr. Bilour claimed that the reward would come from his “personal funds” and invited “Taliban brothers and al-Qaeda brothers to join me,” according to reports.
Prime Minister Raha Pervez Ashraf’s spokesman Shafqat Jalil condemned the actions of Mr. Bilour, a minister representing a minority party in the coalition government led by president Asif Ali Zardiri. Mr. Jalil said that Pakistan’s government “absolutely dissociated” itself from the offer in an interview with BBC.
This highlights the rifts within Pakistan’s government, torn between its ties with the US and swelling anti-Western sentiment. Several US embassies have been attacked by outraged Muslims, including the US embassy in Islamabad. On Friday, police held back hundreds of protesters attempting to force their way in the embassy.