Geert Wilders plans Muhammad exhibition after US shootings
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders said last week that he wanted to stage a parliamentary exhibition of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked a deadly shooting in Texas that left two dead. "I am going to request Parliament to exhibit the same cartoons as those that were displayed in Garland," said Wilders, referring to the Dallas suburb where the shooting took place on 3 May 2015.
Police said the two gunmen drove up to the conference centre in Garland, where the American Freedom Defence Initiative was organising a controversial Muhammad cartoon contest, and opened fire with assault rifles, hitting a security guard in the ankle. A Garland police officer then shot and killed both gunmen with his service pistol. US investigators are probing the backgrounds of the two slain gunmen after the Islamic State group claimed it had ordered the shooting.
Wilders, 51, had left the conference centre, where he made a speech criticising Islam, shortly before the incident. "I want to send a message that if you use violence to suppress free speech, the only effect is that we'll do it even more," Wilders said, adding "we must show we'll not be intimidated."
Wilders, whose Freedom Party (PVV) gained popularity in the Netherlands on an anti-Islam ticket, denied that a cartoon exhibition would be provocative. "I don't want to provoke, but at the same time we must show that we're standing for freedom of speech," Wilders said.
Ever since forming his own party in 2006, the firebrand politician has been a divisive figure in the Netherlands, which prides itself on its long but fading tradition of multi-cultural tolerance.
Wilders himself has no hesitation in branding the Koran as a "fascist" book and has even likened it to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
But the politician is facing prosecution in the Netherlands after a controversial statement last year during local government elections in which he vowed to ensure fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. (AFP)
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