Dutch anti-Islam MP cancels Mohammed cartoon contest

Dutch MP Geert Wilders cancels planned contest inviting people to submit a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed following death threats.

Ben Ariel ,

Geert Wilders
Geert Wilders

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders announced on Thursday that he had cancelled a planned contest inviting people to submit a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed following death threats.

“To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead,” wrote Wilders in a statement quoted by The Guardian.

Wilders is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, which has in the past sparked outrage around the Muslim world and prompted death threats that have led to him living under round-the-clock protection.

In 2015, Wilders caused a storm in his country after he announced plans to broadcast cartoons of the founder of Islam on national television.

In his statement on Thursday, he said he does not want others put in danger by the contest he planned for November.

News of the competition sparked angry protests in Pakistan and an alleged death threat against Wilders this week from a 26-year-old man, reportedly a Pakistani, who was arrested on Tuesday in The Hague, according to The Guardian.

“It’s not just about me,” Wilders said in the statement. Opponents of the event “see not only me, but the entire Netherlands as a target,” he added.

Cartoons of Mohammed have in recent years enraged Muslims around the world on several occasions and are linked to several terrorist attacks.

In January of 2015, gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in anger at the magazine's cartoons featuring the Prophet. The magazine had previously been targeted over its portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed.

In May of that year, a competition featuring Mohammed cartoons in a suburb of Dallas, Texas came under attack by two gunmen. Police in Arizona later stepped up security near a mosque in Phoenix, where protesters from an anti-Islam group planned to draw cartoons of the prophet.

In 2012, the "Innocence of Muslims" film, which depicted the Muslim prophet as a thuggish deviant, triggered a wave of violent protests in the Muslim world that left dozens dead.