Wilders calls off Mohammed cartoon contest over threat

PVV leader Geert Wilders decided to cancel a planned cartoon competition featuring Islamic religious figure prophet Mohammed, due to threats made against him, he said on Twitter.

"There is a price on my head, a high Pakistani clergyman - the NCTV [National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security] recently told me - declared a fatwa against me and someone was arrested who claimed he wanted to kill me and that is just some of the threats", Wilders said, adding that now "others are also at risk through all the threats."

The cartoon competition was set to take place in the PVV chamber in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, in November. The competition angered TLP, a far-right Islamic party in Pakistan, who called for the Dutch ambassador to be expelled from the country while thousands of people marched in protest against the competition. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi previously said that he wants to put this matter before the United Nations and other world leaders. "They do not understand how much pain they cause us with these actions", Prime Minister Imran Kahn said earlier this week. 

The competition is a sensitive topic, as depicting the prophet Mohammed is considered sacrilege in large parts of the Islamic world. 

Sources within the security services told NOS that they only found out about Wilders' decision to cancel the competition when he posted it on Twitter. The NCTV told NU.n that they did not advise Wilders to cancel the competition, and there was no discussion about the pros and cons of such a competition. 

The Taliban called for Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan to be attacked, presumably also because of this competition. The soldiers were instructed to remain inside and only leave the camp if it was "absolutely necessary", a Defense spokesperson said to NU.nl. Defense takes this threat "very seriously" and is investigating how serious the threat is. About 100 Dutch soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan for the NATO mission Resolute Support.