PESHAWAR (Reuters) - A Pakistani minister offered $100,000 on Saturday to anyone who kills the maker of an online video which insults Islam, as sporadic protests rumbled on across parts of the Muslim world.
“I announce today that this blasphemer, this sinner who has spoken nonsense about the holy Prophet, anyone who murders him, I will reward him with $100,000,” Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour told a news conference, to applause.
“I invite the Taliban brothers and the al Qaeda brothers to join me in this blessed mission.”
A spokesman for Pakistan’s prime minister said the government disassociated itself from the minister’s statement.
While many Muslim countries saw mostly peaceful protests on Friday, fifteen people were killed in Pakistan during demonstrations over the video.
People involved in the film, an amateurish 13-minute clip of which was posted on YouTube, have said it was made by a 55-year-old California man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
Nakoula has not returned to his home in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos since leaving voluntarily to be interviewed by federal authorities. His family has since gone into hiding.
In the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Saturday, thousands of Islamist activists clashed with police who used batons and teargas to clear an unauthorized protest. In Kano, northern Nigeria’s biggest city, Shi’ite Muslims burned American flags, but their protest passed off peacefully.
The demonstrations were less widespread than on Friday, but showed anger still simmered around the world against the film and other insults against Islam in the West, including cartoons published by a French satirical magazine.
In the Libyan city of Benghazi, a crowd forced out an Islamist militia some U.S. officials blame for a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate during one of the first protests, on September 11.
Ansar al-Sharia, which denies it was involved in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, quit the city after its base was stormed by Libyans angry at armed groups that control parts of the country.
That might go some way to vindicate U.S. President Barack Obama’s faith in Libya’s nascent democracy where Ambassador Christopher Stevens had worked to help rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi only to be killed in a surge of anti-Americanism.
“It’s the view of this administration that it’s a pretty clear sign from the Libyan people that they’re not going to trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of the mob,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
“It’s also an indication that the Libyan people are not comfortable with the voices of a few extremists and those who advocate and perpetrate violence, to drown out the voices and aspirations of the Libyan people.” [ID:nL5E8KM49W]
In Egypt, the leader of Egypt’s main ultra orthodox Islamist party, that shares power with the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood, said the film and the French cartoons were part of a rise of anti-Islamic actions since the Arab spring revolts.
“A new reality in the Middle East has emerged after the toppling of autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak and others through democratic elections that brought newly-elected Islamist governments,” Emad Abdel Ghaffour, leader of the Salafist Nour Party, told Reuters.
“There are interest groups who seek to escalate hatred to show newly-elected governments and their Muslim electorate as undemocratic,” he said.
Nour, whose party is the second largest in parliament and plays a formidable force in Egypt’s new politics, said President Mohamed Mursi should demand “legislation or a resolution to criminalize “contempt of Islam as a religion and its Prophet” at the U.N. General Assembly next week.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Pakistan, Anis Ahmed in Dhaka and; Tom Cocks in Lagos; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Sophie Hares