Monday, February 20, 2006

It Isn't Just Raving Street Mobs Anymore...

Behead Danish cartoonist; Indian minister tells crowd

New Delhi (ICNS) -- Minister of a northern Indian state has announced a 510-million-rupee award for anyone beheading the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Prophet Muhammad.

Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, Uttar Pradesh state's minister for for Haj and Minority Welfare, declared the award at a public rally in Meerut, a town with considerable Muslim population in the state.

"Any person who chops off the head of the cartoonist from Denmark who dared to make a caricature of Muhammad Sahib and brings it to me shall be rewarded Rs 51 crore in cash and given gold equivalent to his weight," Qureshi said according to media reports.

Protestors then burnt an effigy of the cartoonist and courted arrest demanding that India sever diplomatic ties with the Scandinavian country.

Rajnath Singh, head of the Hindu-based federal opposition party BJP, sought a clarification from the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav on the issue.

Singh also said the minister, who declared the award, either should resign or be suspended.

However, the state government has not moved against Yaqoob saying the statement was made against someone living in a distant country.

Do note: this is an official in the largest democracy in the world--the largest democracy in history, fa' Chrissakes! This seemingly minor news of a possibly idle threat is still a dismaying blow to the idea that democracy can defuse The Jihad.

Let's be fair and see what kind of followup this incident gets, whether the minister gets brought up short by the Uttar Pradesh government. But I gotta confess: reading this story made me gulp. If we lose India, then it's hard to see how we can avoid checkmate in the WOT in South Asia.

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