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Outcry in Pakistan over Geert Wilders stunt

August 29, 2018

Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders' plan to hold a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest has sparked protests in Pakistan. It comes after a man was arrested in Belgium for threatening to attack Wilders over the competition.

Pakistanis protest against Dutch politician Geert Wilders' plan to hold a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/K. M. Chaudary

Thousands of Pakistanis on Wednesday protested far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders' plans to hold a Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition.

Some 10,000 protesters participated in the 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."

The demonstration was organized by Islamist groups that made surprising advances in the July elections, and came one day after Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of threatening to attack Wilders over the contest.

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

Wilders is an outspoken critic of Islam, and has made controversial comments regarding the Prophet Mohammed in the past, including announcing plans to show cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad on Dutch television.

Dutch police make arrest

The man arrested for allegedly threatening Wilders was taken into custody on Tuesday in The Hague, police spokesman Jan Rensen said, without identifying his nationality.

Read more: Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression

He is believed to have posted a video on Facebook on Monday in which he said he was five minutes away from the parliament building and said he was targeting the anti-Islam politician.

"Only that blasphemer [Wilders] is my target," the man said in the video, which was shown on national broadcaster NOS. "I believe that God will help me succeed ... they're making jokes about our Prophet."

Read more: Mainstream outlets need to judge benefits of publication

In January, 2015, two armed gunmen stormed the offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, where they killed 12 people and injured 11 others. The left-wing publication often publishes articles mocking various religions, including Islam.

law/kms (AP, Reuters)