AMSTERDAM – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has condemned the cartoon contest organized next November by anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, disassociating his government from the plans.
“He is not a member of the government. The competition is not a government initiative,” Rutte said in a news conference, Press Herald reported Saturday.
The comments followed sharp criticism from Pakistani authorities, who voiced their anger regarding the upcoming event to take place at the right-wing Party for Freedom’s heavily guarded offices at the Dutch parliament.
Authorities also held a diplomatic protest on the same, calling it an attempt to defame Islam.
Wilders is notorious for his rants against Islam and Muslims.
In 2008, Wilders released a 15-minute documentary accusing the Qur’an of inciting violence.
In 2013, Google has deactivated the mail account of Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders following complaints that the anti-Islam politician was using it to spread anti-Islam initiative.
In May 2014, Wilders has put his country in hot water after distributing stickers with the Saudi-flag, replacing the text of the shahada with anti-Islam slurs, after which the Kingdom slapped indirect sanctions on the European country.
In January 2016, the far-right politician said in a video for his party that all male Muslim refugees should be incarcerated in their asylum centers in Europe, claiming it to be necessary for protecting women on the streets.
“His aim is not to have a debate about Islam. His aim is to be provocative,” Rutte 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.”
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.”