Indian politician Haji Yakub Qureshi is facing charges, after offering a hefty reward for the terrorists who attacked the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.
Qureshi sparked the controversy when he justified the attack against the magazine by saying those who offend Islam must pay.
“Prophet Mohammad had conveyed a message of peace to the entire world and if anyone makes certain cartoons on him will invite death like the cartoonists and journalists in Paris,” Qureshi said not long after the attack in Paris.
Qureshi went on to say that Charlie Hebdo made itself a target by mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.
“Any work against religion and the Prophet must not be tolerated at any cost. The French magazine was continuously committing a crime by targeting religion. This was the reason that its office was attacked and journalists were killed. We will give a reward of Rs 51 crore to any individual or organisation which comes forward and claims that they executed this attack.”
He added, “Whatever happened in Paris was absolutely justified.”
The reward amounted to roughly $8 million in U.S. dollars.
The remarks were met with a sharp rebuke within India. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttar Pradesh spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak called for Qureshi to be thrown in jail.
“The government must register a case against Qureshi and arrest him,” Pathak said. “He has been trying to terrorize society. His only place is in jail.”
Haji Yakub Qureshi is now facing charges under Indian section 505 1 (c), which cites him for “intent to incite, or likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offense against any other class or community.”
Qureshi denied offering the reward, saying “I have not made any such announcement regarding the attack in Paris.”
It is unclear if the remarks attributed to Qureshi circulated through the international press were in question.
Haji Yakub Qureshi had long stirred controversy for his statements defending Islam. In 2006, he offered a similar reward for anyone who killed a Danish cartoonist who created a controversial depiction of the Prophet Mohammad. He also made headlines in 2011 for derogatory remarks against the Sikh community.