Dutch firebrand vows to show Muhammad cartoons on TV

Jun 3, 2015, 8:54 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders said Wednesday he plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Dutch television after Parliament refused to display them.

Wilders said he would show the cartoons during television airtime reserved for political parties, in a move likely to offend Muslims since Islamic tradition holds that any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous.

Political parties in the Netherlands get a small amount of airtime each year and broadcasting authorities have no say in what the parties show. Wilders said the broadcast would likely take place in the next few weeks, but an exact date has yet to be determined.

The announcement came a month after Wilders gave a speech at a contest in Garland, Texas, for cartoon depictions of Muhammad. Shortly after Wilders left the event, it was targeted by two men with pistols and assault rifles. Security guards shot and killed the attackers.

Wilders, whose Freedom Party holds 12 of the 150 seats in Parliament’s lower house, told The Associated Press he wants to air cartoons from the Texas competition to support people “who use the pen and not the sword.”

“If we say, ‘it might be offensive, so let’s not do it,’ then we send a signal to the people who wanted to get into the event in Texas … and all their followers that it works,” he said. “That we can be intimidated, that we get frightened.”

Cartoons such as those featured at the Garland event have sparked anger and violence in the past.

Wilders is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of free speech and targeting Islam. He has lived under round-the-clock protection since 2004 because of death threats.

In the past, he triggered protests in the Muslim world for a short film he broadcast online which juxtaposed verses from the Quran against videos of violence and terrorism.

He was acquitted in 2011 of hate speech as judges said that his anti-Islam rhetoric came in the context of a fierce national debate about immigration and multiculturalism.

Wilders is again facing prosecution for hate speech over a chant last year in which he asked his supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands and they shouted back “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”

This story has been corrected to say parties get airtime each year, not each month.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Dutch firebrand vows to show Muhammad cartoons on TV