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New Pakistan bounty offer for anti-Islam filmmaker

Pakistani Islamic religious leaders rally against the anti-Islam film.

PESHAWAR/KANO/MOSCOW: A former Pakistani legislator has offered a $200,000 bounty for anyone who kills the maker of an anti-Islam film that has angered Muslims around the world.

Ikramullah Shahid made the offer at a rally Monday in the northwestern city of Peshawar, before a crowd of about 15,000 people.

Difa-e-Pakistan Council, an umbrella group of radical Islamic and militant groups, led the rally. Shahid is a member of the group.

This is the second such offer made by someone in Pakistan. A federal Cabinet minister earlier offered $100,000 for the man behind the movie trailer “Innocence of Muslims” that portrays Islam’s Prophet Mohammad as a fraud, womanizer and child molester.

Outraged Muslims have rallied against the film. At least 23 people have died in protests in Pakistan against the film earlier this month.

In a YouTube video which appears to have been posted Sunday, the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has issued a threat over the film.

“First, insults against the Prophet, evil plots against him, making blasphemous movies against him, all these will do no harm to Islam,” Abubakar Shekau said.

“Anybody plotting this will surely pay for it. Everybody knows what this statement entails. Everybody should wait and see what we will do regarding this,” he adds in the Hausa language spoken in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.

The video could not be independently authenticated, but it closely resembled previous such clips of Shekau, who has been in hiding since a 2009 crackdown by Nigeria’s military on Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, a court in Moscow ruled Monday that the anti-Islam film could no longer be shown in Russia.

Tverskoi court’s ruling follows a similar local decision taken last week by a court in Grozny, the provincial capital of Russia’s Muslim-dominated province of Chechnya.

In Moscow, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said the film was deemed extremist because it could incite ethnic and religious hatred.

Russia’s communications minister had warned that authorities would bar access to YouTube if its owner, Google Inc., failed to abide by a court order to block access in this nation to the film.

Google in Russia has said it could restrict access to the video, if it received a court order outlawing it, but the company declined to discuss that issue with the Associated Press Monday evening.

The RIA-Novosti news agency quoted mufti Shafig Pshikhachev, head of the Coordination Center of Muslims in the North Caucasus, as welcoming Monday’s court ruling in Moscow.

“This is a positive step in defense of believers,” Pshikhachev said.

“Unfortunately, we are witnessing such events regularly, so I think the adoption of a law is good. We need a legal method of protecting the faithful and our holy places.”

Some Russian cell phone companies took the initiative last week to block access to a number of sites, including YouTube, to its subscribers in the north Caucasus, large swathes of which are inhabited by Muslims.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 02, 2012, on page 10.

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