Mosques produce cartoon mocking Dutch politician
Geert Wilders due to broadcast caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad today
Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, yesterday. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands have published a cartoon mocking right-wing politician, Geert Wilders – less than 24 hours before he is due to broadcast caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on national television at lunchtime today.
Dutch embassies around the world, and particularly in Islamic countries, have been placed on alert for protests in the aftermath of the first airing of the cartoons, with two more due on June 24th and July 3rd – but the response from Muslims in the Netherlands has so far been low-key.
The dates of the three broadcasts have been timed by Mr Wilders for maximum impact by coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday evening and which commemorates the revelation of the Koran to the prophet.
Mr Wilders decided to use air time allocated for party political broadcasts to publicise the cartoons – the same ones shown at a contest in Texas last month where two attackers were shot dead by police – after he was refused permission to exhibit them in the grounds of parliament.
In one completely unexpected reaction, the council of Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands, which represents about 80 mosques in the major cities, advised all Dutch people, “whatever their religion”, that the best way to deal with Mr Wilders was to “shrug, and ignore him”.
Mr Wilders is currently awaiting trial for allegedly inciting racial hatred, and the cartoon has the words “fewer, fewer” emerging from his mouth, a reference to the chant at an election rally calling for fewer Moroccans in the country – the chant that led directly to the charges against him.
Provocations and insults
“With Wilders, unfortunately, there is no dialogue. Communication is one-way. But we would like to see Muslims and non-Muslims alike responding as we have done, by making fun of him with the pen and the brush. That is our message.”
Reminding his 433,000 followers on Twitter last night that his cartoons of the prophet will be broadcast at 12:49pm local time today, Mr Wilders tweeted in Dutch and English: “Freedom of speech must always prevail over violence and terror.”
Having finally unveiled his seven-party right-wing alliance in the European Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Wilders has pledged to “stop immigration from Islamic countries” by closing Europe’s borders.