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Afghan cleric offers cash for death of film producer

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An Afghan cleric has offered rewards totaling $400,000 for anyone killing the producer of a U.S.-made anti-Islam film and a French cartoonist who drew caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

“I have offered $300,000 to anyone who kills the anti-Islam film producer and $100,000 for killing the French cartoonist,” Mir Faroq Husaini, a prominent cleric in the western province of Herat, told AFP Sunday.

Husaini said he had first announced the reward during a sermon on Friday in a large mosque in the city.

“I will sell all my properties, including my lands in Herat, to collect the money,” he said.

Afghanistan is a devoutly Muslim nation and perceived insults to religion are taken seriously, often with violent consequences.

The “Innocence of Muslims”, a crudely made film that mocks Islam, triggered violent protests in at least 20 countries including Afghanistan after excerpts were posted online last month.

Immediately after the film gained notoriety, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons caricaturing the Muslim prophet.

A Pakistani government minister last month placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the maker of the film.

Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour also called on the Taliban and al-Qaeda to join the hunt and help accomplish the “noble deed”.

Meanwhile, in recent related news, Naveed Haider's print works went into overdrive in neighboring Pakistan, running off hundreds of U.S. flags for angry protesters to burn at demonstrations.

Weeks of protests in Pakistan caused serious damage to major cities, but for Haider business is booming.

When the mobilization against the U.S. film began, “I knew the tills would start ringing”, said the manager at Panaflex printers, housed in a dilapidated building in Rawalpindi, the twin city of Islamabad and headquarters of the military.

“Whenever we have these demonstrations, I make 10 times as much money as normal,” he told AFP in a tiny room that stank of ink, as two huge rollers spat out Stars and Stripes.

Sold for between 120 and 1,500 rupees ($1.25 to $16) depending on size and quality, the flags have been snapped up for demonstrations against the film in recent weeks, and Haider watched in delight as his products went up in smoke day after day on the TV news.

The boom in the flag market has accompanied a surge in anti-American feeling in Pakistan, which has been battered and bruised by Taliban violence and US drone strikes since joining Washington's “war on terror” in late 2001.