Magazine article Newsweek International

Blood Money

Magazine article Newsweek International

Blood Money

Article excerpt

Byline: Nazar Ul Islam

A Pakistani minister offers cash for a filmmaker's death.

Several weeks ago, after Pakistan's official Love for the Prophet Day degenerated into deadly riots, railways minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour held a press conference in Peshawar announcing that he would give $100,000 of his own money to anyone who kills Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker behind the tawdry YouTube video Innocence of Muslims. The Pakistani government and Bilour's own party distanced themselves from the railways minister after his comments. And the United States government issued a note of disapproval. Yet Bilour's gamble paid off. The Pakistani Taliban quickly embraced the 72-year-old member of a secular party, who had previously been on their kill list. "Bilour is a true Muslim," said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan. "He has won our hearts." Striking while the iron is hot, at least one other politician has sought to emulate Bilour's example and doubled the amount of money put on Basseley Nakoula's head. Bilour then followed by announcing that he would personally kill anyone who blasphemes against the prophet Muhammad. "I am a true, practicing Muslim and believe in God," he told Newsweek. "I am not scared of the Taliban." He said his announcement had helped quell further violence and condemned the "shameful" destruction of public property during the Sept. 21 riots. "They acted like women," he said of the protesters. "I acted as a gentleman."

Incitement is illegal under Pakistani law--punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine. But that hasn't stopped Bilour and others from using it as a political tool. In fact, the lax implementation of the law has allowed many to flout it with impunity. "Laws exist against any incitement to murder, but we have a very weak history of enforcing these laws," said Asma Jahangir, a human-rights activist, in an interview with CBS News. …

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