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$1M Offer For Death Of Dane Cartoonist

Plus a car.

From Saudi-owned Reuters:

A Pakistani protester runs amid tires set on fire by an angry mob protesting against the publication of cartoons of Islamic Prophet Muhammad, in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 17, 2006.

Bounty offered on cartoonists as protests rage

By Simon Cameron-Moore

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers offered rewards amounting to over $1 million for anyone who killed Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that have enraged Muslims worldwide.

The cleric offered the bounty during Friday prayers as Muslim anger against the cartoons flared anew in parts of Asia.

Weeks of global protests over the cartoons have triggered fears of a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, and have led to calls on all sides for calm.

On Friday, thousands rallied in Pakistan, police in Bangladesh blocked demonstrators heading for the Danish embassy in Dhaka and in the Indian city of Hyderabad, police fired teargas shells and batons to beat back hundreds of protesters, who had stoned shops and disrupted traffic.

Protests in Pakistan this week have resulted in at least five deaths and hundreds of detentions, and on Friday it became the latest country where Denmark has decided to temporarily close its embassy.

The Danish foreign ministry also issued a travel warning for Pakistan, urging any Danes to leave as soon as possible.

In the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, cleric Maulana Yousef Qureshi said he had personally offered to pay a bounty of 500,000 rupees ($8,400) to anyone who killed a Danish cartoonist, and two of his congregation put up additional rewards of $1 million and one million rupees plus a car.

"If the West can place a bounty on Osama bin Laden and Zawahri we can also announce reward for killing the man who has caused this sacrilege of the holy Prophet," Qureshi told Reuters, referring to the al Qaeda leader and his deputy Ayman al Zawahri.

The cleric leads the congregation at the historic Mohabat mosque, on street known for goldsmith shops in the provincial capital of North West Frontier Province — a stronghold of Pakistan's Islamist opposition parties.

The cartoons were first published in Denmark last September, but last month newspapers and magazines in Europe and elsewhere began republishing to assert principles of freedom of expression.

Muslims believe images of the Prophet are forbidden.

EMBASSY SHUTS

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said it was recalling its own ambassador from Copenhagen for consultations. It did not elaborate further.

The Danish ambassador in Islamabad said, however, that relations had not been broken off because of the furor.

"I'm still in Pakistan and in a secure place," Ambassador Bent Wigotski told Reuters.

"There is no question of broken relations or anything like that," he said, adding that the German embassy was looking after Denmark's consular affairs.

Denmark has already shut its missions in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Indonesia as a result of violence or threats of violence.

Protests in Pakistan have been large and violent and many have taken on a distinctly anti-U.S. tone. Demonstrators, in addition to burning Danish flags, have attacked U.S. fast-food outlets and burned U.S.
President George W. Bush in effigy.

Islamist parties have called for a nationwide strike on March 3, around the time President George W. Bush is expected to visit Pakistan, despite the unrest.

APPEALS FOR REASON

Western leaders have been calling for calm.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac both said on Friday that it was a mistake to publish the cartoons.

Clinton, on a private visit to Pakistan, said he saw nothing wrong with Muslims around the world demonstrating in a peaceful way, but he feared a great opportunity to improve understanding had been squandered.

"This is not a time to burn bridges; this is a time to build them," he said, adding, "…I can tell you that most people are horrified that this much misunderstanding has occurred."

Chirac was more blunt.

"I am appalled by what happened as a result of the publications of these cartoons," Chirac told India Today news magazine which published an interview with him on Friday.

"I am, of course, in favor of the freedom of the press, which is a pillar of democracy. But I am equally for respecting everyone's sensibilities… So I deplore the situation," said Chirac, who visits India next week.

Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac, what an axis of weasels.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 17th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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