Geert Wilders cancels Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition

Wilders

Wilders

"I have chose to cancel the competition to avoid the risk of making people victims of Islamist violence", Wilders said in a statement. In Pakistan, such blasphemy is punishable by death and the mere accusation of it can cause lynchings.

PM Khan also said that after bringing all Muslims on the same page, a protest would be recorded against the handful of people who deliberately hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims, and added that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had already started contacting his counterparts across the Muslim world in this regard.

Rizvi had planned to stage a sit-in to force Pakistan to sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands over the contest.

The party is demanding that the government expel the Netherlands' ambassador to Pakistan from the country in protest against the competition.

In a clear indication of the anger Wilders had generated, thousands of hard-line Islamists marched toward Pakistan's capital Thursday in protest.

The demonstrators were expected to camp out near Islamabad later Thursday.

Hundreds of supporters and followers of firebrand cleric and TLP chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, gathered outside the famous shrine of Hazrat Usman bin Ali Hajjveri, a sufi saint, before commencing their journey to the capital.

The latest in the series of demonstrations took place in Pakistan on Wednesday, as more than 10,000 took to the streets to decry Wilders's "blasphemous" plans.

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Fox News and Russia Today covered the campaign, as did conspiracy site InfoWars and Tommy Robinson's former employers The Rebel Media.

The Taliban threat was issued shortly before Wilders announced Thursday that he was calling off the contest because it posed too great a threat of provoking violence against innocents.

Depictions of Muhammad are highly controversial.

Earlier, a Dutch judge extended by two weeks the detention of a 26-year-old man who allegedly threatened to attack Wilders. He is accused of preparing to commit a murder and inciting with terrorist intent, among other crimes.

Officials from the Punjab provincial government met with Labbaik leaders in Lahore in a vain attempt to persuade them to call off their protest.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte last week questioned Wilders' motive for organizing the competition. "His aim is not to have a debate about Islam".

The minister said everyone reserved the right to protest and that his government would provide full security to the TLP rally.

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders appears in court for his appeal against a conviction for inciting discrimination accusing prosecutors of trying to destroy his right to free speech, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 17, 2018.

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