Wilders to show Muhammad cartoons on Dutch TV

Move follows parliament’s refusal to exhibit the cartoons on its premises, says politician

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who says he plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a television slot reserved for his anti-Islam Freedom Party. Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who says he plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a television slot reserved for his anti-Islam Freedom Party. Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters

 

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has said he will show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a television slot reserved for his anti-Islam Freedom Party. The move will likely be seen as blasphemous by many in the Netherland’s million-strong Muslim community.

Mr Wilders, who is currently awaiting trial for allegedly inciting racial hatred against the country’s Moroccan community, said he had taken the decision to use the airtime because parliament had refused to exhibit the cartoons on its premises in The Hague.

No date has been specified, but the broadcast is expected to take place in the next few weeks. Unless there is a legal challenge, the broadcasting authorities have no power to stipulate what political parties can or cannot show in the airtime allocated to each of them.

Free speech

“Terrorists have to realise two things: firstly, that they will never win and, secondly, how important free speech is for us in the Netherlands, ” Mr Wilders said yesterday, defending the planned broadcast.

The cartoons due to be used in the broadcast are the same ones shown in a contest for depictions of the prophet in Garland, Texas, last month. There, two gunmen who attempted to launch an attack on the cartoonists were shot dead by police.

The attack happened shortly after Mr Wilders delivered the keynote speech to open the contest.

Afterwards it was claimed that but for the quick action of the local police there could have been a massacre similar to the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January, in which 11 people were shot dead and 11 more injured.

Mr Wilders wants the Koran banned in the Netherlands and lives under 24-hour protection because of death threats. He said he wanted to use the Texas cartoons to support “people who use the pen and not the sword”.

He added: “If we say, ‘it might be offensive, so let’s not do it’, then we send a signal to the people who wanted to break into the event in Texas, and all of their followers, that it works – that we can be intimidated and we can be frightened.”

In February, just weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attack, a gunman shot dead a documentary film-maker and wounded three policemen when he tried to force his way into a pro-free speech meeting in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

World protests

There were worldwide protests at the end of 2005 and into the following year when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

The hate charges facing Mr Wilders date to a rally last year, at which he asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, and they shouted, “Fewer, fewer!”

He was cleared of a similar charge in 2011.