ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's government on Sunday distanced itself from remarks made by a federal minister who offered up to $100,000 to anyone who would kill the maker of an anti-Islamic amateur video that sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world.
Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour announced his intent to put up the bounty Saturday, a day after a wave of unrest sparked by the film swept through Islamabad and other major cities in Pakistan, leaving more than 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. One of the people involved in making the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is an Egyptian Coptic Christian from Southern California who has gone into hiding.
A 14-minute trailer for the film released on YouTube portrays the prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a fraud. On Saturday, Bilour told reporters in the northwest city of Peshawar that he would be willing to face arrest for announcing the bounty if necessary.
"If any international court declares me guilty for announcing the bounty, then I am ready to be hanged in the name of the holy prophet Muhammad," Bilour said. "We are not against freedom of expression, but the misuse of that right to hurt the religious sentiments of others is totally wrong and intolerable."
Bilour's remarks triggered a strong disavowal from members of his party, the Awami National Party, which is aligned with President Asif Ali Zardari's ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), as well as from top
"He is not a member of the PPP. He is an Awami National Party politician and therefore the prime minister will speak to the head of the (Awami) party to decide the next step," Shafqat Jalil, Ashraf's spokesman, told the BBC. "He will stay in his post for now."
Here's a look at protests and events on Sunday connected to an anti-Muslim film produced in the United States and vulgar caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in a French satirical weekly. At least 49 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been killed in violence linked to protests over the film.
IRAN Some 300 Iranian students protested against the Prophet Muhammad caricatures in front of the French Embassy in Tehran, burning French, American and Israeli flags and chanting "death to France" and "down with the U.S." They called for the expulsion of the French ambassador.
BANGLADESH Hard-line Islamic groups protesting the film enforced a nationwide general strike, closing schools and businesses and disrupting transportation. Thousands of security officials were deployed in the capital, Dhaka. No violence was immediately reported.
GREECE Greek riot police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse about 600 protesters who clashed with officers during a rally against the film. Demonstrators carried anti-U.S. banners and tried to march to the U.S. Embassy, although riot police surrounded them and attempts to break through police lines failed. Police detained six people during the rally. It was the first such protest against the film by Muslims in Greece.
-- Associated Press