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Geert Wilders holds Muhammad cartoon contest

December 29, 2019

Geert Wilders revived a controversial Prophet Mohammad cartoon competition. The Dutch politician declared the winner to be a dark drawing of a bearded man wearing a black turban.

Geert Wilders
Image: picture alliance/dpa/ANP/M. Beekman

Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders announced on Sunday what he called the winner of a contest for caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, more than a year after he shelved a similar event due to the fear of a violent backlash.

The drawing Wilders called the "winner" was a dark image of a bearded man with a wrinkled brow wearing a black turban and black shirt.

"Freedom of speech must prevail over violence and Islamic fatwas," said Wilders, who heads the largest opposition party in the Dutch parliament.

In August last year, Wilders canceled a similar contest after Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man who had threatened to kill him over his anti-Islam stance.

Wilder's previous plan to hold the Muhammad cartoon contest prompted huge demonstrations in some Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan.

Images of the Prophet Muhammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous, and many Muslims regard caricatures as highly offensive.

Read more: Has 'Charlie Hebdo' gone too far?

Violent reaction

In 2005, a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked violent protests across the Islamic world. Several attempts were made to kill the newspaper's editor, as well as cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

@dwnews - Charlie Hebdo attack anniversary on social media

In 2015, Islamist gunmen shot dead 12 people at the offices of the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine, which often publishes articles mocking various religions, including Islam.

Wilders is an outspoken critic of Islam and has made controversial comments regarding the Prophet Muhammad in the past. He regularly receives death threats from Islamists.

Read more: Dutch populist Geert Wilders blocked by Twitter

After he announced the plan to hold the competition last year, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the Pakistani Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik, issued a fatwa (religious edict) against Wilders.

Some 10,000 protesters participated in Rizvi's march, chanting "we will die to protect the honor of the Prophet," and holding a large banner that said they were holding a "peaceful protest."

In a tweet on Saturday, Wilders said it was unfortunate that Rizvi was not arrested in Pakistan for issuing fatwas against him.

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shs/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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