The Shariat court of the town of Lucknow (the state of Uttar Pradesh), in the north of India , sentenced the Danish cartoonist to death for insulting Prophet Muhammad. The Shariat court issued its decision several days after the Minister for Haj and Religious Minorities of the state, Yakub Qureshi, announced a reward of $11.5 million for the head of the Danish cartoonist.
Indian Muslims continue to express their violent protests against the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, which originally appeared in a Danish newspaper and then were reprinted by several other Western publications. A large demonstration has recently taken place in the Indian town of Lucknow. The protesters were asking the authorities to cease relations with Denmark and cancel the visit of the US President George W. Bush to India.
According to the above-mentioned statement released by Indian Minister for Ethnic Minorities, Yakub Qureshi, a person who murders the cartoonist will be rewarded with $11.5 million. The minister added that the murderer would also be rewarded with gold, the total weight of which would be equivalent to murderer’s weight. The minister made such a generous promise last week on Friday as he delivered a speech to a crowd of Muslims who gathered on the town square in the north-west of India.
The authorities of Uttar Pradesh (this state is the home to one of the largest Muslim communities in India) stated that the reward had been announced on the minister’s personal initiative. The initiative, officials added, did not violate any laws of the state. According to Qureshi, the 11.5-million-dollar reward is to be collected by members of the Muslim community of the state.
Other Indian politicians have criticized the initiative from the Indian minister. A member of the Indian Muslim Council Zafarjab Gilani said that it would have been better for Mr. Qureshi to keep his mouth shut. “The post of a minister implies responsibility. He should not have released such statements. We understand his emotions and religious feelings. We also acknowledge his right for it, but our Council does not welcome murder as revenge,” Gilani said.
The Indian minister was not the first person to announce a generous reward for the killing of the European cartoonist. A similar promise has been made by the Afghanistan-based movement Taliban. Talibs promised 100 kilograms of gold (about $2 million) for cartoonists’ heads.