Well, Florida pastor Terry Jones has gone and done it. The evangelical minister, who threatened last September 11 to burn a copy of the Koran and then backed down in the face of public pressure, has made good on his incendiary promise. With 30 people present as witnesses, he set fire to a copy of the embattled religious text.
And, as happens in the event of real or imagined slights, the other shoe summarily dropped. No sooner had Jones fired up his Bic than an Islamic “court” in Pakistan found him guilty of the crime of desecrating the religion’s most holy book. The court then issued a fatwa—loosely translated as “death order—against him, as is their wont.
But here is where the story gets interesting. Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawah, a banned Islamic organization and suspected terrorist group, announced a bounty of 10 crore rupees for anyone who fulfills the fatwa on Jones. In case you’re wondering, that amount is equivalent to around $2.2 million—not exactly chicken feed. What ever happened to 72 virgins?
I became curious about whether this most supernal of religions actually sanctions killings for hire, so I did a little digging and found that indeed it does. One of the most famous examples of a fee-for-service fatwa involved Taslima Nasreen, an exiled Bangladeshi writer, who had been targeted for execution by Indian Muslim scholars. After Juma prayers at the Tipu Sultan mosque in Calcutta, Majidulla Khan Farhad announced “unlimited financial reward” to anybody who would kill the author.