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Pakistani minister stands by anti-Islam film-maker bounty

September 25, 2012

Photo shows Pakistani Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.—Reuters Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani government minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, who offered $100,000 for the death of a film-maker who produced an anti-Islam movie, stood by the bounty on Tuesday, saying it was the “only way” to stop insults to the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Railways minister Bilour sparked international criticism when he offered the blood money, also urging Taliban and al Qaeda militants to carry out what he called the “noble deed”.

The government and Bilour’s own party, The Awam National Party, have distanced themselves from the reward for the person behind the crudely-made “Innocence of Muslims” disrespecting the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and sparking violent protests across the Muslim world.

Bilour said a businessman from Lahore has offered to put up a further $400,000 for the reward and said that freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to insult Islam.
But Bilour insisted public opinion was behind him in Pakistan – which has seen dozens of protests against the film including nationwide rallies on Friday that ended in bloodshed and looting, with 23 people reported killed.

“I expressed my personal view and faith. I stand by my declaration,” said Bilour. “My faith is non-violent, but I cannot forgive and tolerate (this insult).”

He said a businessman from Lahore had offered to put up a further $400,000 for the reward and said that freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to insult Islam.

“Killing is not a good way, but right now it is the only way, because no action has been taken from Western countries (against the film-maker),” he said.

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 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.