Geert Wilders cancels Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition

Geert Wilders cancels Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition

Geert Wilders cancels Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition

Anti-Islamist Dutch politician Geert Wilders has cancelled his Prophet Mohammed cartoon contests after a man was arrested for plotting an attack against him and thousands took to the streets in Pakistan in protest.

The group wanted to block one of the major entrances into Islamabad to replicate their protest in 2017, when they forced the country's previous justice minister to step down on a law related to blasphemy after a prolonged blockade of the city. "Images of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous".

On August 30, a 26-year-old man of Pakistani descent who had threatened on Facebook to attack Wilders was remanded in custody by a judge in the Dutch capital, The Hague.

"To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead", Wilders said on Thursday in a written statement, claiming to have received death threats.

"We will reach Islamabad tonight and hold a sit-in until the government accepts our demands and expels the Dutch ambassador", Pir Ejaz Ahmad Ashrafi, central TLP leader, said. He said the contest was a "deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam".

Addressing a press conference early on Friday morning with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) Pir Afzal Qadri, the foreign minister added that the issue was immediately raised at all forums by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government and a "major crisis" was averted.

Wilders posted a cartoon on Twitter suggesting Islamic extremism has "damaged Muhammad more" than an artist with a pen.

Ten years later, a pair of Islamists stormed the offices of magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, known for publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet, and killed 12 people.

A planned trade mission to Pakistan for November was also postponed "until a later date", the government-run Netherlands Enterprise Agency said.

It was the subject of protests in Pakistan on Wednesday. Wilders' right to stage the contest, saying it fell within the boundaries of freedom of speech, but stressed that the plan was not a government initiative.

Earlier Thursday, Pakistan's newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a video message stating that Muslim countries need to raise their concerns against the cartoon contest in the upcoming United Nations General Assembly. "His aim is to be provocative", the prime minister said.

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