Muslims call Dutch politican’s plan to broadcast cartoons of Muhammad intentional provocation

FILE - In this April 13, 2015 file photo Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders  as he speaks at a rally of so-called 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West' (PEGIDA) in Dresden, Germany. Geert Wilders says on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 he plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Dutch television airtime reserved for political parties after Parliament refused to display them, in a move likely to deeply offend Muslims. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)

FILE - In this April 13, 2015 file photo Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders as he speaks at a rally of so-called 'Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West' (PEGIDA) in Dresden, Germany. Geert Wilders says on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 he plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Dutch television airtime reserved for political parties after Parliament refused to display them, in a move likely to deeply offend Muslims. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, File)

Gregory Dewar

MIKE CORDER
Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands Moderate Dutch Muslims on Thursday called anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders’s plan to broadcast cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on national television a provocation.

This comes after Wilders announced his plan to use airtime granted to political parties to show cartoons from a contest in Garland, Texas last month that was targeted by two armed attackers. Wilders spoke at the contest in Texas, but left before the foiled attack that left both gunmen shot dead.

Islamic tradition holds that any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is blasphemous. It appears, however, that Muslims in the Netherlands may be growing accustomed to Wilders’ fierce criticism of their faith.

Muslims in the Netherlands “are no longer easy to offend,” said lawyer Ejder Kose, who once represented a Muslim organization that tried unsuccessfully to ban a short film made by Wilders.

Wilders established and leads the Freedom Party that holds 12 of the 150 seats in the parliament’s lower house.

Wilders’ anti-Islam rhetoric has in the past sparked outrage around the Muslim world and prompted death threats that have led to him living under round-the-clock protection.

Yassin Elforkani, spokesman for the Contact Group for Muslims and Government, agreed that people are growing accustomed to Wilders.

“It is provocation from Mr. Wilders that we have been used to for years,” Elforkani said in a telephone interview.

Wilders denied he was being provocative for the sake of it, and he said in an emailed reaction that he wants to show the cartoons to support freedom of expressions and demonstrate to extremists that their violence won’t silence him.

“Never capitulate. Never give in to fear,” he wrote. “Always continue with more power and conviction.”

A date hasn’t been set for Wilders’ broadcast.

The Dutch government said Wilders’ comments hadn’t prompted any change in the country’s terror threat level.

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