he U.S. envoy to Islamabad on Thursday dismissed as “despicable’’ a 100,000 dollars reward offered by Pakistan’s railway minister last week for the killing of the maker of an anti-Islam video.
“To ask for violence even against one person is not a responsible step to take,’’ Richard Hoagland told reporters in Islamabad a day after the Pakistani Taliban announced they were removing the minister’s name from their hit list over his action.
Ghulam Ahmad Bilour offered the reward at the weekend, inviting the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants to contribute to the “noble cause,’’ saying only the execution of blasphemers can deter further mocking of the religion and prophet Mohammed.
The U.S. charge d’affaires acknowledged the outrage of Muslims against Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a U.S. based Coptic Christian believed to be behind the amateur film, but defended American freedom of speech, even for “disgusting or hurtful’’ material.
“If you begin to limit some freedom of speech on one particular issue then where do you stop? Hoagland said.
“It’s one of the real conundrums of a free and independent democratic state.’’
A YouTube trailer for the film titled Innocence of Muslims triggered violent protests in Pakistan earlier this month, which killed at least 23 people and damaged property.