Anger as Geert Wilders briefly relaunches Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest

The far-right Dutch politician invited Twitter users to send in satirical drawings in a short-lived competition that lasted just a few hours

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 3, 2019 Dutch PVV party leader Geert Wilders sits in the dock prior to the appeal in the criminal case against Wilders at a courtroom in Schiphol, the Netherlands. Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders said he was reviving a Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition on December 29, 2019, more than a year after cancelling a similar contest that sparked demonstrations and death threats. - Netherlands OUT
 / AFP / ANP / Sander Koning

Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders briefly revived a Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition on Saturday that previously led to the politician receiving death threats.

Just hours after launching the contentious event on Twitter, where he urged followers to submit caricatures, he announced it had ended and said it was a stunt to highlight the importance of freedom of speech.

It comes a year after a similar competition was cancelled amid international protests, with Mr Wilders also receiving death threats.

In his first post late on Saturday, the leader of the Netherlands' Freedom Party, invited his Twitter followers to send in satirical drawings of the Prophet Mohammed.

"#FreedomOfSpeech must prevail over violence and Islamic fatwas," he wrote in the post.

However, on Sunday morning he issued a further tweet, posting the message "Mission accomplished. End of contest" above a picture of what he said was the winning drawing.

Many Muslims regard the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed as highly offensive.

Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad said Mr Wilders's announcement was in response to the Pakistan government's refusal to take action against Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who allegedly threatened to behead him in 2018.

Mr Wilders said: "Nor does the Dutch government continue to force them to protect freedom of expression. To send a clear signal, we are still doing the contest."

His stunt comes after he announced plans for a cartoon competition in August 2018.

The move angered many Muslims, particularly in Pakistan, and led to him cancelling the event after receiving death threats.

Before the cancellation, large demonstrations were held in Pakistan. Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan organised the protests and called on Islamist countries to sever all ties with the Netherlands.

A day after he cancelled  the event, an Afghan man stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam's main train station.

The man, who said he wanted to "protect the Prophet Mohammed", was sentenced to 26 years in jail in October.

In November, a Dutch court sentenced a Pakistani man to 10 years behind bars for planning to assassinate Mr Wilders.

Mr Wilders, 56, known for his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim statements, now lives in a safe house and has been afforded 24-hour protection by the Netherlands.

The publication of satirical images has sparked anger over the years.

In 2005, cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten led to mass demonstrations and several attempts by extremists to kill either its editor or cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

In 2015, extremists killed 12 people in the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

It has previously published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

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