Islamophobe Dutch MP cancels offensive cartoon contest

Geert Wilders has a history of inflammatory stunts against Islam. (AFP)
Updated 31 August 2018

Islamophobe Dutch MP cancels offensive cartoon contest

  • Plans by Wilders to hold a cartoon competition at his party's offices in parliament have stirred anger among Muslims, particularly in Pakistan
  • Man arrested on suspicion of trying to kill Wilders appears in Dutch court

AMSTERDAM: The Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders said on Thursday he was canceling plans to hold a highly inflammatory contest for cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The MP said he would never personally stop his campaign against Islam but the risk to innocents, and of attacks on the Netherlands, stemming from the proposed contest were too great, Reuters reported.

Earlier this week, Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of threatening to attack Wilders over his plan.

On Thursday, the suspect briefly appeared in a Dutch court. He "is being suspected of committing a terrorist act, planning to commit murder and incitement," Dutch prosecutors said in a statement.

Police arrested the man at one of The Hague's main railway stations after he posted a film on YouTube saying he planned an attack on Wilders or the Dutch parliament.

The man, believed to be from Pakistan, also called on other Muslims for support.

"Authorities are taking the threat very seriously," the Dutch public prosecution service said in the statement.

"The investigation is ongoing" and the man is in custody "with maximum restrictions" meaning that he is only allowed to consult his lawyer.

Prosecutors did not release the suspect's name, saying at this stage they were reluctant to release further information.

He will remain in custody for another two weeks before a next appearance.

Plans by Wilders, an avowed anti-Islamist, to hold a cartoon competition at his PVV party's offices in parliament have stirred anger among Muslims, particularly in Pakistan.

The Netherlands on Wednesday updated its travel advice to Pakistan urging its citizens "to avoid demonstrations in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi."

"Stay alert and keep a low profile," the travel advice added.

A planned trade mission organized by the Dutch government and private companies in early November has also been postponed "until a later date," the government-run Netherlands Enterprise Agency said in a separate statement.

Wilders in June announced plans to stage a cartoon competition in parliament later this year to draw the Prophet Mohammed. He claims he has received 200 entries so far.

The Dutch competition's winner is set to receive a cash prize, Wilders said adding that the competition is not to "provoke or insult."

"We are organizing the competition because the freedom of speech is the most important freedom we have," he said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte however has distanced his government from the cartoon competition, saying it was not a government initiative.

Rutte last week said he supported free speech in the Netherlands but believed the cartoon competition "not respectful" and aimed only to provoke.

"The aim is to provoke, rather than stimulate a debate about Islam," Rutte said – but he added Wilders was free to air his opinions.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan thousands of people demonstrated against the contest, in a march organized by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, which also called on Pakistan and other countries to sever all ties with the Netherlands.

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

In 2005, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad that sparked a wave of protest across the Muslim world that led to scores of deaths.


Institutions review links with Britain’s Prince Andrew

Updated 19 November 2019

Institutions review links with Britain’s Prince Andrew

  • The review comes after the BBC broadcast a lengthy interview with the prince on Saturday in which he tried to explain his links to Epstein
  • The unprecedented subject matter tackled in the television interview — and the royal’s apparent lack of empathy for victims — has dominated British media in recent days

LONDON: A British university on Tuesday said it was reviewing its links with Prince Andrew after he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a TV interview.
But a bank said it would not be renewing its backing for a project he founded.
“We will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our patron at the next board of governors meeting on Tuesday 26th November,” said London Metropolitan University.
“The university opposes all forms of discrimination of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the university’s values.”
Andrew — Queen Elizabeth II’s second son — took over the role from his father, Prince Philip, in 2013. There have been royal patrons at the institution since 1848.
The review comes after the BBC broadcast a lengthy interview with the prince on Saturday in which he tried to explain his links to Epstein, who was found dead in jail in August.
Andrew strongly denied claims he had had sex with a 17-year-old girl allegedly trafficked by Epstein but expressed little regret about his friendship with the disgraced financier.
The unprecedented subject matter tackled in the television interview — and the royal’s apparent lack of empathy for victims — has dominated British media in recent days.
It has also put pressure on those with links to the prince.
Students at Huddersfield University in northern England said they wanted Andrew to resign as a patron, claiming he was “an utterly unsuitable representative” because of the allegations.
Standard Chartered bank meanwhile said it was not renewing its sponsorship of the prince’s [email protected] project, which encourages entrepreneurs and start-ups around the world.
The bank cited “commercial reasons” for not renewing the current agreement when it expires in December.
Accountancy firm KPMG’s backing for the mentoring scheme expired at the end of last month and will not be renewed.
Pharma giant AstraZeneca’s partnership is due up next month. It is also being reviewed.
Insurance giant AON reportedly asked for its logo to be removed from the [email protected] website, according to the Financial Times.