Disgruntled Geert Wilders throws open challenge to Pakistani Foreign Minister
LAHORE – Anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who recently cancelled his infamous blasphemous caricatures contest, has warned Pakistan against declaring an early victory, disclosing his future plans of ‘exposing barbarism’.
Responding to the statement of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Wilders tweeted, “Don’t claim victory too soon @pid_gov I am not finished with you yet. I will expose your barbarism in many other ways.”
He reacted to the remarks of FM Qureshi as shared by the government of Pakistan official Twitter account in which he said, “Cancellation of blasphemous contest is a great moral victory of Muslim Ummah.”
“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.
Wilders, who lived for years under round-the-clock protection because of death threats sparked by his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric, said he did not want others to be endangered by the contest he had planned for November.
Physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are forbidden in Islam and are considered blasphemous by Muslims. Previous cartoons depicted him have provoked violence.
In 2005, a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the prophet which sparked a wave of protests across the world.
Ten years later, gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published similar caricatures.
“It’s not just about me,” Wilders said in the statement. He said strong opponents of the event “see not only me but the entire Netherlands as a target.”
The Dutch government had been at pains to distance itself from the contest.
The country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, questioned Wilders’ motive for organising the contest and said he did not support the planned contest, but he would defend Wilders right to hold it.
“His aim is not to have a debate about Islam. His aim is to be provocative,” Rutte said.
However, the prime minister added that people in the Netherlands have far-reaching freedom of speech rights and the government did not intend to seek the contest’s cancellation.