ITAR-TASS correspondent Ivan Ivanov reports from Islamabad: Pakistan’s minister for railways, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, has become something of a celebrity here having offered a reward of $100,000 to anyone who would whack the makers of the controversial film Innocence of Muslims.
Some people in Pakistan think though that the bounty has turned their country into an official enemy of the United States, even though Mr Bilour stressed that he offered the reward on his own behalf and not on behalf of the government of which he is a member. Speaking in his ‘personal capacity’ the minister for railways said that he expects either Al-Qaeda or the Taliban to receive the award. He accepted that he was basically encouraging people to commit a crime but said that he is technically ready to commit murder himself. ‘I’m first and foremost a Muslim and only then a member of the government,’ he said at a press conference. ‘If I encounter the people behind the film, I will kill them with my own hands. And then let them hang me.’
These comments were obviously addressed to America. That is where the makers of the film, which has caused so much offence among the Muslims across the world and has resulted in widespread violence including attacks on US embassies, live. The people in question are producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and director Alan Roberson, who says that he had no idea about the anti-Muslim content of the movie. Nakoula , who was the mastermind behind dubbing the film in Arabic and posting its trailer on YouTube, is keeping quiet, having been placed under protection of the US authorities.
Under the circumstances, Washington is obviously keen on seeing the turmoil created by the film Innocence of Muslims die down. But Mr Bilour’s bounty offer and his comments are preventing that. That was why the response from the US State Department was predictable. ‘Both the President and Secretary of State think that this video is offensive, disgraceful and biased but it still does not make violence acceptable,’ a State Department’s spokesman said. ‘Responsible political leaders should be voicing their opposition to violence.’
The Pakistani government responded to the offered reward by joining ranks and taking a united view on things. The office of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has insisted that the cabinet has no connection to the statement made by Bilour. The Avami party that Mr Bilour heads has distanced itself from his comments as well. But the most important thing, as observers point out, is that ordinary people do not respond to the idea of killing the makers of the film. Not to mention some of the elements in Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. No one needs a new wave of violence and killings that Balour’s statements could ignite: just as calls from some people in America could incite bombing Pakistan back into the ninth century.
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ITAR-TASS correspondent Alexander Zyuzin reports from Hong Kong: The giant factory based in China that belongs to the Taiwan electronic group, Foxconn, was forced to halt production as a result of a massive brawl on its premises. Nearly 2,000 workers were involved in the fight with 40 hospitalised as a result of their injuries.
The fight broke out at a factory that is based the city of Taiyuan, in Shanxi province. It is still not clear what actually caused the brawl. But some eyewitnesses say that a private dispute outside a hostel got out of control. According to another account, a row had erupted between the workers and the security guards while others say that the conflict erupted between residents of two different provinces – Shansi and Shandun. As a result the brawl turned into a massive fight. Nearly 5,000 policemen were brought in to put an end to the disturbances. It was not until morning that order was restored. But as a result production was halted for a full working day. There are nearly 79,000 people working at the factory.
Foxconn is the trade name of a Taiwanese company Hon Hai Precision Industry, which is one of the biggest producers of electronics in the world. The company’s factories in China produce the famous iPhones and iPads, and also other mobile phones, notebooks and gadgets.
Foxconn has already been involved in controversy and scandals. It got into the news when several suicides were committed by its workers. And even though salaries were raised the suicides continued. The last one happened only two weeks ago. It appears that the main reason for people ending their lives was harsh working conditions.
The latest incident has resulted in the price of Foxconn’s shares falling on the Hong Kong stock exchange.