A firebrand Muslim cleric in Pakistan, Khadim Rizvi, said that if he had the power he would order a nuclear strike against the Netherlands because of an upcoming Mohammed cartoon contest organised by the anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders.
The Guardian reports that Imran Khan’s new Pakistani administration is being pressurised by Islamic hardliners like Rizvi to sever ties with Holland because of the contest. Thousands of Islamists this week set off on a protest march, claiming that Wilders’ competition was “blasphemous”.
Rizvi, who founded the TLP, said that condemnation of the contest by the Pakistani government was not enough and “only jihad” was the solution.
In June, Geert Wilders, who leads the Netherlands’ second largest party and has been found guilty of inciting hatred, invited submissions of cartoons depicting Mohammed. The $10,000 (£7,700) competition is due to open in November, with 200 entries so far.
The Dutch PM, Mark Rutte, has termed the event “disrespectful” but defended the right to hold it on the grounds of freedom of expression.
On Monday, Pakistan’s senate passed a resolution condemning the competition and Khan vowed to take up the issue at the UN general assembly in September. He said Islamic countries should cooperate to create laws against blasphemy similar to those against Holocaust denial in European countries. Khan asked:
The TLP knows how to force the government’s hand. For three weeks in November, Rizvi and about 2,000 followers blockaded a motorway between Islamabad and its sister city, Rawalpindi, over minor adjustments to an election oath they declared blasphemous. The army eventually brokered a deal with the government, which included the dismissal of the law minister, Zahid Hamid, and further concessions.
The protest puts Khan in a difficult position, analysts said, as during the run-up to the election he was using the “same kind of rhetoric” on blasphemy as the TLP.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn