File Photo: Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Reuters)
The Netherlands has "expressed its regret" to Egypt over a Dutch politician’s intention to organize a cartoon contest depicting anti-Islam cartoons, Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
In an official statement, the Egyptian foreign ministry said Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, who expressed his country’s sorrow over controversial Dutch nationalist politician Geert Wilders’s plan to hold the anti-Islam cartoon contest inside parliament.
Wilders' Dutch Party for Freedom, known for their hatred and opposition to Islam, is the second-largest party in the Dutch parliament.
He announced the contest last June, and said it will be open next November in the PVV’s parliamentary offices.
Blok said Wilder’s plan does not in any way represent the positions of the government or Dutch community, stressing his government’s refusal to all manifestations of hatred, incitement, and disrespect of religions.
Shoukry affirmed the necessity that freedom of expression should not be confused with the adoption of hate and incitement speech.
He described it as a mix up which would have a dangerous impact on the relations between nations and people with different religions.
Shoukry also said that the world needs to support and spread values of tolerance and respect of other’s opinions, as well as a respect of beliefs and religions to repel religious extremism, terrorism, and violence.
Since Tuesday, the Netherlands has distanced itself from the competition to several Islamic majority states opposing the contest, yet defending the right to hold it on foundations of freedom of expression.
Pakistan has been leading the line of opposition to Wilder’s contest, calling for an emergency session by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the contest.
The outrage comes after protests and riots made 13 years ago in several Arab and Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published several offensive cartoons of Islam Prophet Mohamed in 2005.
In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten provoked protests across the world and riots in some Muslim countries by publishing several cartoons of Muhammad, including one depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban.
In 2015, two French militants killed 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s offices as revenge for the printing of cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohamed in the past.