Pakistan was willing to devote a national holiday to protesting the film Innocence of Muslims but calling for the producer's assassination is a step too far, apparently. On Monday, the government distanced itself from Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour's offer to pay $100,000 for anyone who kills Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Egyptian-Coptic Christian living in California who produced the anti-Islam film. The Associated Press's Asif Shahzad reports that Pakistan's Foreign Office issued a statement today saying Bilour's bounty "was not Pakistan's official policy." The bounty also landed Bilour in trouble with his own party, the secular Awami National Party, because it was seen as appealing to al Qaeda and the Taliban. "We are a secular party," said party spokesman Hajil Adeel. "We consider al-Qaida and Taliban as our enemy."
That disavowal of the bounty is a welcome development but the anti-American uproar is still going strong. The government declared a national holiday on Friday termed "Day of Love for the Prophet," widely seen as an appeasement to radical Islamists. As predicted, the protests turned violent and 21 people were killed as rioters set government buildings, churches, and movie theaters ablaze.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.