Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Wilders cancels Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
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This file photo taken on June 9, 2018, shows Dutch far-right PVV party leader Geert Wilders in central London. (AFP Photo)
This file photo taken on June 9, 2018, shows Dutch far-right PVV party leader Geert Wilders in central London. (AFP Photo)

Far-right Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders on Thursday canceled a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that sparked protests in Pakistan.

In a written statement Thursday night, Wilders, an outspoken anti-Islam party leader, said he decided to "let the contest go" following death threats and concerns other people could be put at risk.

Wilders added that his fight against Islam would continue and no threat could stop him.

The event was scheduled for November. Wilders planned to display caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad at the tightly guarded offices of his Party for Freedom in the Dutch parliament building. He said he received "hundreds" of entries.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi complained to his Dutch counterpart on Tuesday over the contest, saying it would "spread hate and intolerance," and hurt the feelings of Muslims around the world.

Physical depictions of the prophet are forbidden in Islam and deeply offensive to Muslims.

Qureshi said later he planned to take up the issue with several world leaders. "We have raised this issue at several levels," he said. "We have contacted the United Nations. We have contacted the European Union."

Pakistan's upper house of parliament on Monday condemned the contest, and the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party organized a protest march from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "They don't understand how much they hurt us when they do such acts."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last week: "This contest is not an initiative by the government. This contest is not something I would do."

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