Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, at a press conference, dissociated his government from a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest organized in November by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders.
“He is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative,” he said. The comments arrived after authorities in Pakistan voiced their anger regarding the upcoming event to take place right-wing Party for Freedom’s heavily guarded offices at the Dutch parliament.
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Authorities also held a diplomatic protest on the same, calling it an attempt to defame Islam. Wilders has been embroiled in controversy for his anti-Islam remarks which has led to him receiving scores of death threats.
“His aim is not to have a debate about Islam. His aim is to be provocative,” PM said. “This man, Geert Wilders, is known for testing the limits of freedom of expression. He is free to do that. The Cabinet wants to make clear it is not a Cabinet initiative.”
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Wilders tweeted his response saying that the reaction of Rutte and the Dutch foreign minister “show that we are ruled by Islam cuddlers.” He said the contest was not meant as a provocation “but to show that we do not bargain with our freedom.”