A day after the country went up in flames protesting against a sacrilegious film, high authorities did their bit to add fuel to the fire.
First, it was Federal Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmad Bilour who on Saturday joined the bandwagon of voices baying for blood, and called for the head of the movie maker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
In an announcement at the Peshawar Press Club, Bilour announced a $100,000 bounty on the head of the man behind the anti-Islam film, ‘Innocence of Muslims.’
The federal minister went as far as to appeal to the Taliban and al Qaeda to kill Nakoula, but said he would welcome anyone who will come forward and take the movie maker to task.
“I would kill him myself, come what may,” he said.
Bilour’s party, the secular Awami National Party that governs Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, has officially condemned the movie.
Interestingly, the federal minister’s announcement comes a day after an angry mob vandalised property associated with Bilour’s family.
Bilour’s family is believed to have a strong influence over the affairs of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce, and have the ownership of Shama Cinema, notorious for screening adult-rated movies.
Both places were set on fire during the riots on Friday.
Bilour said a religious party is being blamed for the rioting and arson and the government is probing the allegations.
He also condemned the torching of a church in Mardan and termed the incident brutal, and against the teachings of Islam and Pakhtun traditions.
Those who vandalised the church in Mardan were criminals, Bilour said.
Khosa hits out at the Pope
Then it was Punjab Governor Latif Khosa’s turn. Pope Benedict XVI expressed his reservations on the Rimsha Masih case but is silent on the blasphemous movie, said Governor Khosa at the Multan airport.
The Pope’s silence shows discrimination, the governor said.
Leaders of all religions of the world, including the Pope, are silent as if this blasphemous act is a teaching of their religion, Khosa added.
Contrary to Governor Khosa’s assertions, Vatican’s spokesman had released a statement following mob violence against US embassies in Libya and Egypt, condemning “provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers.”
“The serious consequences of unjustified offence and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence,” Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi had said in the statement.
“Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is an essential precondition for peaceful coexistence,” the statement added. (With additional input by Owais Jafri in Multan)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.