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Pakistani minister personally offers reward for anti-Islam filmmaker's death

From Nasir Habib, CNN
September 23, 2012 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pakistan's prime minister condemns the bounty, his spokesman says
  • Pakistan's railway minister is personally offering a $100,000 reward for filmmaker's death
  • His party is concerned about the comments, saying "we believe in nonviolence"
  • The filmmaker has already gone into hiding amid worldwide protests

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Pakistan government minister has personally offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who kills the man who made the anti-Islam movie that is drawing ire throughout the Muslim world.

Railway Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour announced the bounty at a news conference Saturday, but he made clear to CNN he was speaking for himself and not as a government representative.

Asked whether he was concerned about committing or condoning a crime as a government official, Bilour said, "I am a Muslim first, then a government representative."

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He said he invited the Taliban and al Qaeda to carry out the assassination.

I am a Muslim first, then a government representative

Sen. Zahid Khan, a spokesman for Bilour's political party, said the minister's action is not representative of the Awami National Party.

"We believe in nonviolence. How could we make such announcements?" Khan said. "Our party has been fighting against militancy and extremism for years. How could we invite Taliban and al Qaeda to kill someone? Taliban and al Qaeda are our enemies who have killed our loved ones."

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"We have lots of concerns over the statement of our colleague," he added.

The leftist Awami National Party is a coalition partner in the federal government led by President's Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party. The ANP is a ruling party in northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemns the bounty issued by Bilour, his spokesman said Sunday.

Shafqat Jalil said the prime minister will take up the issue with the head of the Awami National Party.

Bilour did not mention the filmmaker by name, but he was likely referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who U.S. officials say is behind the privately produced film.

Nakoula and his family have already left their California home and gone into hiding amid the worldwide storm of protest, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced.

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CNN's Reza Sayah and journalist Aamir Iqbal contributed to this report.

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