Threats to kill Wilders over Mohammed cartoons could mean six years in prison

Geert Wilders speaking with the media
Geert Wilders speaking to reporters in Enschede Sept. 5, 2012Photo: Buurserstraat38 / DepositPhotos

The suspect accused of threatening far right leader Geert Wilders, and preparing a terrorist plot, should be sent to prison for six years, the Public Prosecution (OM) said during closing statements against Junaid I. in court on Tuesday. Wilders was present in the courtroom earlier in the day, but declined the opportunity afforded him to make a statement as one of the victims in the case, saying he only wanted to look into the eyes of the suspect.

Junaid I. also stands accused of sedition with terrorism as a motive. The 27-year-old Pakistani man was arrested after traveling from France to The Hague in August, where he was eventually arrested at a train station.

He allegedly wanted to attack Wilders who had planned to host a competition for the best cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed. The competition was to be held at the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, where Wilders is the leader of anti-Islam nationalist party PVV. The suspect was accused of also threatening others at the governing body.

In response to the contest, the suspect published a video on Facebook threatening Wilders and the parliamentary body while he claimed to be in The Hague. That video was viewed by 153 thousand people, and shared 14 thousand times, the OM stated.

“I will only return if I have succeeded in my mission,” I. is accused of saying in the video. The event was halted for safety reasons.

Wilders said he managed to make eye contact with I. twice in court. "I wanted to make it clear to him that he had not only physically failed to carry out his mission, but that violent threats had the opposite effect. It only reinforces my efforts to reach my goal,” he told the Telegraaf

A day earlier, I. told the court that he did not actually plan on killing anyone. He said his sole motivation was to stop the contest, and he wanted to formally protest the competition. 

However, the OM claimed that the accused man not only asked for people to help him accomplish his goal, but also specifically said that protesting was not enough, and that he had to “send that uncivilized dog to hell,” he allegedly said.

"We live here in a democracy where politicians are elected by the people and in which you can disagree passionately with them," said prosecutor Simon Minks in court, according to the Telegraaf. It goes without saying that an attack on an elected politician would cause irreparable damage to democracy. It is a certainty that citizens and public figures would feel less free to give their opinions."

The prosecutor also accused the man of trying to get violent Islamist groups in Pakistan to arrange for a hero’s welcome for when he returns to Pakistan.

The contest to draw Mohammed, a sacred religious figure, prompted outrage from official levels of government in Pakistan. A far-right party in that country called for the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador there, while the country's foreign minister wanted to address the issue in front of world leaders gathered at the United Nations.

"Deep concern was conveyed about this willful and malicious attempt to put Islam in a bad light", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad said at the time.