Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Taliban hails film bounty minister

Protests in Pakistan over the anti-Islam film (AP)

The Pakistani politician who put a bounty on the anti-Islam filmmaker's head has impressed the country's Taliban militants so much that they are taking him off their hit list.

The man behind the "Innocence of Muslims", Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has put his US home up for sale and gone into hiding since violence erupted over the 14-minute YouTube trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," which also has sparked debate over freedom of expression in the US and in Europe.

Pakistani railways minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offered his 100,000 dollar (£62,000) reward on Saturday for anyone who kills Mr Nakoula.

Mr Bilour also appealed to al Qaida and Taliban militants to help eliminate the filmmaker, while Pakistan's government said the bounty reflected his personal view and was not official policy.

The minister belongs to the secular Awami National Party, an ally in the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. His comments drew criticism within his own party, which is considered anti-Taliban and has lost several leaders in the fight against the insurgency.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman said the minister's views represent the true spirit of Islam, and that, consequently, the insurgents have removed him from their hit list. But while Bilour gets an "amnesty," others in his party are still fair game, he said.

Muslims have been angered by the crude, amateurish film's portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed as a fraud, a womaniser and a child molester. Dozens of people, including the US ambassador to Libya, have died in violence linked to protests over the movie.

Separately, a breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban announced its own bounty for those behind the film. The group is offering almost £300,000 in gold.

The faction known as the Dadullah Group offered eight kilograms, or 17.6 lbs, of gold to anyone who kills the film's creators.

The group, named for a Taliban commander killed by Nato troops in 2007, broke away from the Afghan Taliban earlier this year in protest at reconciliation talks with the United States. The Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban are separate, though linked, militant outfits.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz