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ICC Note: As riots in Pakistan continue over cartoons that were published almost six months ago, a cleric is offering $25,000 from his religious school and mosque to anyone willing to kill a Danish cartoonist. A car will also be provided. A local businessmen’s association upped the offer to $1,000,000.

Sify (02/17/2006)

To read the full story click here: Cleric offers $1 million bounty

Peshawar : A Pakistani cleric on Friday announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad, as thousands joined street rallies across the country and authorities arrested scores of protesters.

Police put another Islamist leader under house detention amid fears that the demonstrations held after Friday prayers would turn violent, after riots this week killed five people, but most protests passed off peacefully.

Denmark announced it had temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan after a week of riots in which Western businesses were targeted. The country also advised against all travel to Pakistan and urged Danes still in the country to leave.

Denmark has already temporarily closed its embassies in Lebanon , Syria , Iran and Indonesia after anti-Danish protests and threats against staff.

Meanwhile, Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Denmark for “consultations” about the cartoons, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.

Fearing more riots, Pakistan deployed thousands of security forces in major cities as crowds took to the streets. About 7,000 staged a protest at Rawalpindi , 5,000 in the southwestern city of Quetta and about 5,000 in the southern city of Karachi .

Police arrested 125 protesters in the eastern city of Multan for violating a ban on rallies in Punjab province, and detained 70 others in Karachi .

In the northwestern city of Peshawar , where riots left two dead and scores injured on Wednesday, prayer leader Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi announced the bounty for killing a cartoonist to about 1,000 people outside the Mohabat Khan mosque, where worshippers burned a flag of Denmark and an effigy of the Danish prime minister.

He said the mosque and his religious school would give $25,000 and a car, while a local jewelers’ association would give another $1 million. No representative of the association was available to confirm it had made the offer.

“This is a unanimous decision of by all imams (prayer leaders) of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize,” Qureshi said.