The US State Department has condemned a Pakistani minister’s bounty offer of $100,000 for the death of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the maker of the anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims.
Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offered the bounty on Saturday during a protest against the film in Pakistan, reports the BBC. Dozens of protesters have died in clashes with police in Pakistan, Tunisia, and Sudan, while protests cover many countries in the Muslim world.
A state department official spoke with the BBC, saying that:
“The president and secretary of state have both said the video at the core of this is offensive, disgusting, and reprehensible – but that is no justification for violence, and it is important for responsible leaders to stand up and speak out against violence. Therefore we find Mr Bilour’s announcement is inflammatory and inappropriate. We note that the prime minister’s office has dissociated itself from his comments.”
Al Jazeera notes that the government of Pakistan has also condemned Bilour’s bounty offer. A spokesperson for Raja Pervez Ashraf, Pakistan’s prime minister, condemned Bilour’s comments, saying:
“This is not government policy. We completely dissociate [ourselves] from this.”
Rubina Khalid, a senator withing Pakistan’s ruling People’s Party, also questioned the minister’s motives, saying, “We have never seen Mr Bilour taking any active part in any religious activities.”
Khalid added that, “We have got nothing to do with it [the comments], we all condemn it, and I think strict action should be taken against him.”
Kamal Hyder, a correspondent with Al Jazeera, added that Bilour’s comments should not be taken as an official government action, because of his past actions. Hyder added that, “Not many people have taken him seriously in the past. His family are industrialists. They own cinemas, finance the ANP and partner with the PPP.”