BSP leader Haji Yakub Qureshi (file photo: Hindustan Times)
Former Uttar Pradesh minister and BSP leader Haji Yakub Qureshi sparked a controversy when he appeared to defend the terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that whoever shows disrespect to Prophet Mohammad would invite death.
“Prophet Mohammad had conveyed a message of peace to the entire world and if anyone makes certain cartoons on him will invite death like the cartoonists and journalists in Paris,” Qureshi said, his insensitive comments coming at a time when the massacre is being condemned across the world.
Four of France’s most famous cartoonists were among the dozen people killed on Wednesday when two gunmen attacked the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo.
In 2006 the magazine had reprinted cartoons of the Prophet that had originally appeared in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
At the time, Qureshi had grabbed headlines when he declared a reward of Rs 51 crore ($10 million) for anyone who killed the Danish cartoonist who had created the controversial cartoons. He had made the offer at a public rally in Meerut.
“Those who dare insult Prophet Mohammed deserve death and there is no need to initiate legal procedure against them,” Qureshi repeated to Hindustan Times on Thursday.
Reacting to Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo, Qureshi told HT reporter S Raju that he was ready to pay the reward money to the attackers. “I am ready to pay the money if they come and demand the declared reward.”
But according to PTI, Qureshi denied saying he would reward the Paris attackers. “I have not made any such announcement regarding the attack in Paris,” he told PTI.
When Qureshi’s alleged statement was brought to the notice of Uttar Pradesh’s IGP (Law and Order) A Satish Ganesh, he said that if it were true action would be taken by authorities.
“In our country no one has the right to violate law and order. If anything like that has been stated we will take action. No one will be allowed to violate the law and order,” Ganesh said. He, however, said that he had not seen the alleged statement by Qureshi.
With most people condemning the barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo, this regional leader has once again shown that he is out of step with the rest of the world.