A government minister in Pakistan has personally offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who kills the man behind an anti-Islam film as deadly riots continue throughout the Arab world.
“I announce today that this blasphemer, this sinner who has spoken nonsense about the holy prophet, anyone who murders him, I will reward him with $100,000,” Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour announced during a news conference Saturday, according to Reuters.
“I invite the Taliban brothers and the Al-Qaeda brothers to join me in this blessed mission,” he said.
Bilour, a member of the left-wing Awami National Party, told CNN he was speaking only on behalf of himself, not the Pakistani government.
“I am a Muslim first, then a government representative,” Bilour said.
At least 15 people have been killed in Pakistan during demonstrations, according to Reuters.
A spokesman for Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Sunday that Gilani condemns Bilour’s action. A spokesman for the Awami National Party told CNN they have “lots of concerns over the statement of our colleague.”
“We believe in nonviolence. How could we make such announcements?” party spokesman Sen. Zahid Khan said. “Our party has been fighting against militancy and extremism for years. How could we invite Taliban and Al-Qaeda to kill someone? Taliban and Al- Qaeda are our enemies who have killed our loved ones.”
“Innocence of Muslims,” which denigrates the Prophet Muhammad as an adulterer, killer and child molester, has been blamed at least in part for igniting mob violence across the Middle East. While Bilour did not mention by the filmmaker by name, according to CNN, he likely was referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the 55-year-old California man U.S. officials have said was behind it.
Nakoula has not returned to his Southern California home since leaving voluntarily last week for questioning by federal officers and has gone into hiding with his family.
Bilour’s offer comes after the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad spent $70,000 on ads denouncing the film for Pakistani television.