Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders announced on Saturday evening that he would relaunch a cartoon contest for caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, more than a year after he cancelled it following death threats and demonstrations.
Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Islam positions, invited his followers on his Twitter account to send him satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Images of the Prophet Muhammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous. Caricatures are regarded by most Muslims as highly offensive.
Mr Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV), had announced in June 2018 his intention to organise the contest, before cancelling it after having been the target of death threats. The initiative had drawn strong criticism from the Muslim community, particularly in Pakistan, where several demonstrations had taken place.
A Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani man to 10 years in prison last November for preparing a “terrorist attack” against the MP. Arrested in The Hague, the Pakistani man had published a video on Facebook in which he declared that he wanted to send Mr. Wilders “to hell” and called on the other Muslims to support him. The MP decided two days later to cancel the competition.
The next day, a young Afghan had attacked two American tourists with a knife in Amsterdam Central Station. Sentenced to 26 years in prison in October, the attacker said he carried out the attack to “protect the Prophet Muhammad”, mentioning in particular the name of Geert Wilders.
In a statement, the Egypt-based Observatory against Islamophobia said that “Geert Wilders is a right-wing extremist, who feeds on his feelings of hatred, discrimination and oppression”.
He has “accused Islam and Muslims of all social, political and economic issues, seeking to present his program based on racial discrimination against Muslims in general as a solution to all the problems and crises in the Netherlands,” the Observatory added.