Dutch far-right and anti-Islam lawmaker, Geert Wilders has cancelled indefinitely his proposed Prophet Muhammad (SAW) cartoon contest, amid a mass, organised protest against the event in Pakistan.
The controversial cartoon contest, slated for November 2018 in the Dutch-speaking country, was halted following massive protests in Pakistan. No fewer than 10,000 Pakistanis joined the protest from the Eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad, with heavy security presence.
The organizer of the protest, Pakistan-Labaik Islamist political party, called on the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan to cut diplomatic ties with the Netherlands.
Pakistan’s government vowed to protest the contest at the United Nations in September, until yesterday when the initiator suspended it indefinitely over security concerns.
Wilders, who is known for his incendiary speeches and protests against immigration and Islam, said; “To avoid the risk of victims of Islamic violence, I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead.”
The Dutch Prime Minister has since distanced his government from the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition. Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a weekly press conference that the anti-Islam opposition leader is not a member of the government.
“The competition is not a government initiative,” he said, exonerating his government from all possible blame.
Stijn van Kessel, a political scientist at Queen Mary University of London, told Al Jazeera that the competition was a tactic by Wilders to get media attention in the face of waning public support.
“He is not truly interested in a cartoon contest, but this is a way for him to generate media attention; he hopes that will eventually translate to votes,” Kessel said.
Effects of Peaceful Protests
For Ibn Taofeeq AbdulAzeez, a Nigeria-born Middle Eastern Studies scholar, if the Pakistanis had not protested against the cartoon contest, Wilders would have gone on to ridicule the Prophet of Islam under the so-called freedom of speech convention.
He said the aftermath could have been disastrous.
“This is similar to what happened in 2005/06. A Danish newspaper and other mainstream media drew 12 cartoons of the Prophet, and things turned violent in different parts of the world.
“The word ‘protest’ often comes with a negative stigma attached”, Ibn Taofeeq said, stressing that: “This stigma should be changed. Protest should be portrayed as a good thing.”
Ibn Taofeeq called for peaceful protests devoid of riots that could lead to revolutions, loss of lives and vandalisation of property.
“Serious Muslims should always know that protesting should be towards a goal e.g. forbidding bad acts such as drawing cartoons of the Prophet (SAW) or asking Muslim sisters to remove their Hijabs. These acts are not allowed in Islam and they must be resisted by Muslims through peaceful protests, among other peaceful means.
“Protests remind us, the people, that we are powerful and that our voices matter. That we are important and we have the ability to make big changes in our world”, he said.
“It is forbidden to show depictions of the Prophet (SAW)”
Ibn Taofeeq said drawing of Prophet Muhammad’s image(s) is forbidden in Islam, noting that the Prophet frowned at it while he was alive.
According to him, it could lead to Shirk (associating partners with Allah), and Islam came to prevent all means that may lead to idolatry. There are several authentic sayings of the Prophet (SAW) against depictions of Allah and His messengers, either good or bad.
“Islam came to prevent all means that may lead to Shirk or the association of others in worship with Allaah. Among these means is the making of images, so the Sharee’ah forbids making images, and curses the one who does that, and a strong warning is issued to the one who does that.
“Hence, those who look for trouble by insulting other people’s religious beliefs, symbols or personalities all in the name of freedom of speech should desist from such acts in the interest of peace and love”, he concluded.
- By Rasheed Abubakar /Twitter @rawshield123