Close on the heels of a Uttar Pradesh minister announcing a cash reward of Rs 51 crore (Rs 510 million) to the person beheading the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper, a Shariat court in the state has issued a religious decree sentencing the cartoonist to death.
The decree was issued on behalf of the Idar-e-Sharia Darul Kaza and Ifta Firangimahal Taksal (Islamic courts) by their qazi (priest) on Sunday.
The qazi said it has been clearly stated in the Quran that whosoever hurt the Prophet deserved to be sternly punished.
Asked whether the fatwa has any significance in India, where Islamic laws do not apply, he said, "It is applicable wherever Muslims live".
He claimed he was authorised to issue the fatwa in his capacity as the qazi of the city and he had been doing so for many years.
Muslim clerics on the other hand said though the fatwa was legitimate according to Islamic law, it had little significance in India.
All India United Muslim Morcha Vice-President M A Siddique said Islamic courts were authorised to issue fatwas but it did not apply to a country where Islamic law was not in force.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board spokesman S Q R Iliyasi said the fatwa had no significance in India.
UP Minister for Haj Mohammad Yaqoob Qureshi last week announced a cash reward for whoever beheaded the cartoonist.