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Dutch populist airs Mohammed cartoons on national TV

AFP , Wednesday 24 Jun 2015
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Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on Wednesday aired cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on national television, claiming "freedom of speech must always prevail over violence."

Some 10 cartoons featuring the Prophet were screened on Dutch national broadcaster NOS during a two-minute slot for political parties, just before the 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) news.

One cartoon showed a blood-splattered world and the Prophet standing with a blood-stained dagger and sword while another depicted Mohammed riding a unicycle, dressed in a 1960s-style outfit while juggling apparently decapitated heads.

Wilders said he was making the broadcasts to defend freedom of speech after two militants launched an attack on a Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas last month, before being shot dead by police.

"Freedom of speech must always prevail over violence and terror," the platinum-haired Wilders told viewers in the broadcast.

Many Muslims feel drawings of the prophet are disrespectful or outright blasphemous, and some Dutch Muslims have chosen to simply disregard Wilders.

Public broadcaster NOS is required by the Dutch Media Authority to provide airtime to political parties, including Wilder's Freedom Party (PVV), to make political statements. The regulator said it only examines the content of the broadcasts after they are aired.

If a judge decides that a hate crime has been committed then the authority can withdraw a party's right to airtime for up to four years.

NOS editor-in-chief Marcel Gelauff tweeted over the weekend that the broadcaster "has nothing to do with party political broadcasts. We do news, sports and current affairs."

"Wilders is trying to provoke us and we're ignoring him," Aissa Zanzen, spokesman of the Council of Moroccan Mosques in The Netherlands told AFP.

The politician's announcement earlier this month of his plans to show the cartoons on television prompted the Council of Moroccan Mosques in The Netherlands to release its own cartoon mocking Wilders as a spoilt child with a big mouth.

The cartoon shows Wilders shouting "fewer, fewer" in reference to his pronouncement last year that he would reduce the number of Moroccans in the Netherlands.

Behind the politician is the bomb that he wants to explode in Dutch society, while below the bomb and the shouting Wilders are normal citizens, including Muslims, getting on with their lives and ignoring the populist with the bouffant hairdo.

Wilders has already been charged with hate speech for saying he would arrange for there to be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands.

Dutch embassies have reportedly been advised on measures to take if the cartoons are broadcast, as they could spark violent protests.

A spokesman for the Dutch Public Prosecutor's office said it might investigate if it receives complaints about the broadcast.

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