(Reuters) – One of Pakistan’s most feared Islamists accused President Barack Obama on Wednesday of starting a religious war against Muslims over his handling of a video that mocked the Prophet Mohammad.
Hafiz Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 2008 attack by Pakistani gunmen on India’s financial capital Mumbai, said Obama should have ordered steps to remove the film from the Internet instead of defending freedom of expression in America.
“Obama’s statements have caused a religious war,” Saeed told Reuters in an interview. “This is a very sensitive issue. This is not going to be resolved soon. Obama’s statement has started a cultural war.”
The Obama administration has condemned the film, which ignited Muslim protests around the world as “disgusting”.
But Western countries remain determined to resist restrictions on freedom of speech and have already voiced disquiet about the repressive effect of blasphemy laws in Muslim countries such as Pakistan.
“Obama has said he cannot block the film,” said Saeed. “What does that say?”
He said the United States should take tough action against the makers of the film.
“If not, then hand them to us,” he said, flanked by bodyguards.
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