Pakistani radicals set $11 mn bounty on Rushdie’s head


Islamabad : A group of Islamic scholars in northwest Pakistan placed a $11.5 million bounty on author Salman Rushdie’s head, whose knighthood in Britain sparked an angry response across the Muslim world recently, a report said Saturday.

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The bounty was announced during a meeting of 50 Islamic scholars in the Kanigram region of semi-autonomous North Waziristan, Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper reported.

“Blasphemer Rushdie is liable to death and anyone who murders him will get a reward of 700 million rupees (about $11.5 million),” the head of the meeting, Maulana Muhammad Zaman, was quoted as saying.

“The British government has challenged the honour of one billion and four hundred million Muslims around the world,” he added.

The dispute over the knighthood, proposed by Britain’s Labour government and to be awarded by Queen Elizabeth II, escalated Friday as the Pakistani parliament hardened its stance on the issue and demanded an apology from Britain.

“This house renews its demand from the British government and Tony Blair for immediate withdrawal of the title and tender an apology to the Muslim world,” it said in a new resolution.

Thousands of Pakistanis demonstrated across the country chanting slogans “Death to blasphemer Rushdie” and “Death to Britain”.

Some speakers urged the government in Islamabad to review its diplomatic and trade relations with London.

Another grouping of Islamic scholars, The Pakistan Ulema Council, Thursday conferred the honour title of “Saifullah” (Sword of God) on Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden apparently in retaliation for Rushdie’s knighting.

Many Muslims consider Rushdie’s 1988 book “The Satanic Verses” blasphemous.

Britain insists that the title was awarded to the author for his literary services and not to offend Muslims.