Dutch anti-Islam party to hold Prophet Mohammad cartoon competition, despite previous polemics

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SHAFAQNA : Despite provoking serious polemics in the past, The Freedom Party of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will hold a competition of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

According to Reuters, the party said the plan to hold the competition in the party’s secure offices in Dutch Parliament had been approved by the Dutch Counter-terrorism Agency NCTV.

American cartoonist Bosch Fawstin, winner of a similar contest in Garland, Texas, in May 2015, has been asked to judge the Dutch contest, which will be held later this year.

Cartoons depicting Islam prophet have provoked violent responses in the past. Muslims consider images of Prophet Muhammad to be blasphemous, and cartoons depicting him have previously provoked violent responses.

In 2015, Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris offices of the French secularist satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had printed cartoons of the Prophet. In 2005, the publication in a Danish newspaper of a dozen cartoons depicting the Prophet led to violent protests across the Muslim world.

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, publications in Russia, China and Malaysia said the magazine was wrong to lampoon Islam. Some western journalists, particularly in the US and Britain, have also proved uncomfortable with the idea that anything can be done in the name of freedom of expression.

Wilders’ Freedom Party is the leading opposition party in parliament after coming in second place in elections last March. He has called for the Koran to be banned, and says Islam is a totalitarian faith.

“Freedom of speech is threatened, especially for Islam critics,” Mr Wilders said. “We should never accept that. Freedom of speech is our most important freedom.”

The far-right MP claims Islam is a totalitarian political ideology rather than a religion. He has previously called for mosques and Islamic schools to be shut down and for a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants.

In 2016 he was convicted of inciting hatred and discrimination after asking supporters whether they wanted “fewer or more Moroccans” in their country.

The depiction of prophets is strictly forbidden in Islam.

In the Middle East many Sunni Muslim scholars still advocate a zero-tolerance approach to depicting the prophet, but there have been some calls for pragmatic responses.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar institution, a leading centre of Sunni Islamic learning, in 2015 condemned the Charlie Hebdo cartoons but called on Muslims to ignore them.

“The stature of the prophet of mercy and humanitarianism is greater and more lofty than to be harmed by cartoons that are unrestrained by decency and civilised standards,” it said.

Experts said the statement did not reflect a wider change in sentiment in the region, The Journal reported. The cartoons also create anger and outrage among many Muslims in the US and Europe.

 

Read more from Shafaqna:

Why a member of an anti-Islamic party of Netherland converted to Islam

Anti-Islam Dutch Politician Falls Short in Election

Dutch anti-Islam MP Wilders faces trial for hate speech

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