Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders on Friday said he has decided to cancel the controversial blasphemous caricatures contest after being at the receiving end of death threats.
Through a statement, Wilders spoke out saying that he had made the decision to not go ahead with the cartoon contest.
“The threats resulting from the cartoon contest are running out of control,” he added.
Wilders said that he would never personally stop his campaign against the religion, notwithstanding, the risk to innocents, as well as, attacks on the Netherlands, stemming from the proposed contest were too great.
Earlier this week, Dutch police arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of threatening to attack Wilders over his plan.
The leader of far-right Party of Freedom, in the past, has also called for mosques and Islamic schools to be shut down, as well as, a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants. Wilders’ party became the second largest in the Netherlands at last year’s general elections, but is not part of the government.
He had planned to hold the contest in his party’s offices in the parliament building.
TLP calls off Islamabad protest
Meanwhile, firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called off its protest march to Islamabad after Wilders’ announcement.
According to Express News, the cancellation of the Islamabad rally was announced by party spokesperson Pir Afzal Qadri after his talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Qureshi had requested TLP leaders to end the protest and disperse peacefully in the wake of the controversial competition’s cancellation.
In his media talk, the foreign minister congratulated the nation on their moral victory, and termed the cancellation a diplomatic victory for Pakistan.
The TLP had called for the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador as it launched a protest against the cartoon competition back on August 29.
Hundreds of demonstrators left Lahore and had been on the move to the federal capital until Wilders’ announcement.
Islamabad was on edge as protesters inched closer to the city. Sources revealed that efforts had also been made by authorities to bar the rally from entering Islamabad’s red zone.
Imran’s message to Muslim world
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a video message, said that the cartoon competition was hurting the religious sensibilities of the Muslim diaspora.
The former cricketer said that the government would leave no stone unturned in raising the matter at international forums.
The prime minister said the issue of blasphemy was troubling for every Muslim.
Imran said the Muslim world would vehemently raise the sensitive issue at the United Nations from the platform of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
He said that the West does not comprehend the feelings and sentiments of the Muslim diaspora, adding that “We haven’t explained to them how much we value our religion”.