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Dutch lawmaker wants to show blasphemous caricatures on TV

THE HAGUE: Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has vowed to show caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) on television during time reserved for political parties, after parliament turned down such an exhibition.

Wilders said he would make the broadcast to defend freedom of speech after two militants were shot dead attacking a Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) caricature contest in Garland, Texas last month.

“The only way to show jihadis that we will never bow for terror and violence is to do exactly that which they try to prevent us to do,” Wilders said in a statement.

Many Muslims find drawings of the prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) to be disrespectful or outright blasphemous, and the Dutch authorities said such a move could see Wilders’ right to airtime suspended for up to four years.

Wilders, who gave an anti-Islam speech at the Texas event shortly before the attack, had tried to get parliament to stage an exhibition of Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him ) caricatures.

That was turned down because it did not satisfy the conditions for such an exhibition, including remaining neutral and not being a platform for political views.

Therefore, “I will soon show some of the cartoons on national television, during the broadcast slot allowed to my political party,” Wilders said.

The platinum-haired Wilders, whose Freedom Party (PVV) gained popularity in the Netherlands on an anti-Islam ticket, has previously denied that a cartoon exhibition would be provocative.

The Dutch Media Authority provides airtime to parties to make political statements, but said it only looks at the content of the broadcasts after they are shown.

“Political partis have airtime to present political information,” spokesman Rutger Fortuin told AFP on Thursday.

“We can’t decide in advance if that obeys the law or not, we don’t censor, that would hinder freedom of speech.”

“We can afterwards decide if they’ve broken the law and impose a fine and withdraw airtime for between one and four years,” he said.

“For hate-speech, that’s for the judge to decide, if someone files a complaint.”

Ever since forming his own party in 2006, the firebrand politician has been a divisive figure in the Netherlands, which prides itself on its long but fading tradition of multi-cultural tolerance.-AFP

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