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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

WASHINGTON: The United States on Sunday denounced as “inflammatory and inappropriate” a $100,000 bounty offered by a Pakistani cabinet member for killing the maker of an anti-Islam film that has triggered a deadly wave of protests around the Muslim world.

 

Pakistan’s Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour on Saturday offered the “prize” for killing the filmmaker of “Innocence of Muslims” and invited the Taliban and al-Qaeda to take part in the “noble deed.” But the bounty offered was slammed by the State Department.

 

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “have both said thevideo at the core of this is offensive, disgusting, and reprehensible,” a State Department official said. “But that is no justification for violence and it is important for responsible leaders to stand up and speak out against violence,” the official said in a statement adding, “Therefore, we find Bilour’s announcement is inflammatory and inappropriate.”

 

In Brussels, the European Union (EU) also condemned the call by the Pakistan minister for a $100,000 bounty. “We deplore the call for a bounty,” Michael Mann, Spokesman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, told a press briefing. “We are particularly concerned that this call has come from a member of the government even if the prime minister... has dissociated himself” from the remarks,” Mann added. –Agencies

 

Our correspondent from London adds: The British Home Office has refused to comment on whether it is considering banning the entry into Britain of Awami National Party (ANP) leader and Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour after he offered a bounty on the filmmaker of “Innocence of Muslims.” However, it has confirmed that it had received complaints about his remarks.

 

A spokesperson confirmed that Home Secretary Theresa May was aware of the comments but added: “We don’t make comments on individual cases.” Bilour is a regular visitor to London and spends many days holidaying here with his family members, according to the ANP’s UK leaders.

 

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Conservative MPs wanted Home Secretary Theresa May to consider whether Bilour should be prevented from coming to Britain because his presence would not be “conducive to the public good.” One MP told the paper: “Ministers should be looking at this. We don’t want extremists like that coming into the country.” Another MP reportedly said: “We just can’t have people who incite violence in this way in Britain.” Speaking to The News, a source at 10 Downing Street said Bilour’s comments could affect his “ability to visit the UK” but stopped short of saying whether a ban was under consideration.” If banned from entering Britain, Bilour would be the first politician from any secular party to have such a treatment in Britain. In a mysterious move a couple of months ago, the British High Commission to Pakistan issued a two weeks visa only to Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of ultra-right Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), when he was coming to address Britain’s premier security think-tank, International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). Prior to that, human rights lawyer Ansar Burney had campaigned against Maulana’s views on the Taliban and had called for a ban on him entering Britain.

 

Former spy chief Hameed Gul cannot enter Britain and many other European countries due to his open support for Taliban. “We have condemned what the US film says about our Prophet (SAW) and we have condemned Bilour for what he has said. We believe in Bacha Khan’s teachings. We will see what the party decides if he is banned from entering the UK,” Siraj Khan, ANP’s press secretary in the UK said, when asked if the UK chapter would contest a ban.

 

The MQM was quick in condemning Bilour for his “extremist remarks” and said that the announcment about the reward money for the killer would isolate and embarrass Pakistan internationally. The party, which has been involved in feuds with the ANP in Karachi, may approach the home secretary for the imposition of a ban on Bilour.

 

But Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, tried to explain Bilour’s comments in an interview with Sky News and said his outburst should be seen in the context of the rage Muslims everywhere had shown over the blasphemous film.