Safety Concerns provokes cancellation of Dutch Mohammed cartoon contest

Muhammad cartoon contest in Netherlands sparks Pakistan protests/Guardian

Geert Wilders, a controversial Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker announced on Thursday that the contest to make caricatures of Prophet Mohammed that he planned to host was being cancelled over potential threat that might be posed to the public. This was further galvanized by the threat issued by the Taliban to incite violence against the Netherlands as a country.

In published statements, he revealed that his personal agenda against Islam would never end and his move to cancel the contest was out of concern for public safety. He further commented that his stance on Islam being an intolerant religion was proved by the stark reaction he received.

This week itself saw the arrest of a 26-year-old man who allegedly planned on attack Wilders for planning the contest. There were also strong reactions from Pakistan where multiple thousand people protested against the contest, in a rally organized by Tehreek-e-Labbaik, an Islamist organisation who called on all Islamic countries to sever ties with the Netherlands.

As per Islamic tradition, images or pictorial representations of the prophet are prohibited as idolatrous. Hence caricatures are deemed to be highly offensive. There have already been instances of violent repercussions to Islamic caricatures in the past.

In 2005, a Danish paper called Jyllands-Posten published cartoons about the Prophet, provoking death threats from around some in the Islamic world to the editor and cartoonist of the same. There was also the Charlie Hebdo incident in 2015 which caused the death of 12 individuals.

The Dutch Prime Minister advocated the fact that Wilders had a right to express his opinion but the contest was not to be deemed a government initiative. The contest, however, was scheduled to be held in Welders’ party’s office within the Parliament building.



Rayan Bhattacharya is a Research Intern at The Kootneeti

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