Pakistan condemns blasphemous Dutch cartoon contest

Pakistan’s senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning an anti-Islam cartoon contest planned by a far-right Dutch politician – one of the first actions taken by the assembly since last month’s general election

Senators in the upper house of parliament formally protested on Monday the announcement by Dutch opposition MP Geert Wilders to hold a Prophet Muhammad caricature competition in the Netherlands later this year. 

In his first address to the senate in the capital, Islamabad, newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to take the issue to the United Nations General Assembly in September, calling it a “collective failure of the Muslim world”. 

“Very few in the West understand the pain caused to Muslims by such blasphemous activities,” said Khan.

“Our government will raise the matter in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and get the countries there to come up with a collective policy that could then be brought up at international forums,” he added. “This should have been done a long time ago.”

Wilders, widely known for his fierce criticism of Islam and Muslims, announced in June his plans to organise a competition of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in November. The Dutch government has distanced itself from the event.

Wilders, who leads the second-biggest party in the Dutch parliament, claims to have received more than 200 entries so far. Last date for entry is August 31. 

Winners of the competition will be announced at his Freedom Party offices in The Hague, local media reported, with a $10,000 cash award going to the first-place entry. 

Physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad are forbidden in Islam.

“I understand the Western mindset as I have spent a lot of time there,” said Khan, a cricket star turned politician. “They do not understand the love Muslims feel for the Prophet.”

Pakistan summoned the Dutch ambassador earlier this month to lodge a protest against the blasphemous competition, expressing its “deep concern at this deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam”, the foreign office said in a statement. 

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws prescribe a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad, and life imprisonment for those found to defile the Quran.

Recent years have seen increasing violence associated with the laws, with at least 74 people killed in attacks motivated by blasphemy accusations since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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