December 29, 2019 / 12:21 PM / 19 days ago

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker ends Mohammad cartoon contest within hours

FILE PHOTO: Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders appears in court, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eva Plevier/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders said on Sunday he had ended a contest for cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammad, only hours after announcing the contentious event.

In a tweet posted on Sunday morning, Wilders said international attention on the contest had enabled him to make a point about the importance of freedom of speech.

“Mission accomplished. End of contest”, he wrote above a picture of what he said was the winning drawing, depicting an angry-looking man with a beard.

Images of the Prophet Mohammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous. Caricatures are regarded by most Muslims as highly offensive.

Wilders cancelled a similar contest in August last year after police arrested a man who had threatened to kill him over his plan.

At the time, plans to hold the contest also prompted large demonstrations in Pakistan and Wilders said he felt the danger of violence against innocent people was too great.

Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party is the second largest in Dutch parliament, but is not part of the government.

Reporting by Bart Meijer, Editing by William Maclean

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