Wanted dead not alive: Blasphemy bounties on the rise
In the wake of the mayhem caused by amateur US film 'Innocence of Muslims', some Islamic officials are taking extreme measures to clamp down on anti-Islam 'art' by putting a heavy price on the heads of those responsible.
A bounty to eliminate those accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad is no new phenomenon. In 1989 British Indian author Salman Rushdie got in serious trouble with some members of the Muslim community after publishing his 'blasphemous' book 'The Satanic Verses'. Iran's late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the Muslim author's death, forcing him into hiding.
Now, Pakistan's railways minister, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, has said he is prepared to pay $100,000 to "whoever kills the makers of this [Innocence of Muslims] video". Bilour considers it his "sacred duty" to see that the producers meet a timely end and is happy to dig deep into his own pockets for the reward.
Bilour's ANP party, which is part of the governing coalition, has said that this was a personal statement, not party policy, but added that it would not be taking any action against him.
This statement comes just one week after Rushdie's bounty was upped by half a million dollars. A semi-official religious foundation in Iran reportedly increased the reward for his murder from $2.8 million to $3.3 million, and for many it is no coincidence that this comes on the heels of the chaos waged by the now infamous anti-Islam movie.
Rushdie himself has spoken out to condemn filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, saying: “He’s done something malicious, and that’s a very different thing from writing a serious novel…He’s clearly set out to provoke, and he’s obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for."
But, so far this condemnation has fallen on deaf ears as some Islamic extremists continue to blame Rushdie for the creation of this new offense against Islam. Ayatollah Hassan Saneii - the man reportedly behind the increased bounty on Rushdie's head - was quoted as saying: "As long as the exalted Imam Khomeini's historical fatwa against apostate Rushdie is not carried out, it won't be the last insult. If the fatwa had been carried out, later insults in the form of caricature, articles and films that have continued would have not happened."
In the case of Rushdie, new insults have led to old wounds being reopened, and as tensions continue to simmer, these bounties send a message to the world that the price of blasphemy is on the rise.
Do you think Salman Rushdie deserves the bounty on his head? Is he responsible for the anti-Islam movie? Leave us your comments!