Prime minister Mark Rutte has described the Mohammed cartoon competition organised by anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders as ‘not respectful’ and ‘provocative’ but said that he supports free speech.
‘The aim is to provoke rather than to force a debate about Islam,’ Rutte said at his weekly press conference. ‘Wilders is a politician who provokes and he is free to do that.’
Wilders, who leads the second-biggest party within the Dutch parliament, will announce the winners of the competition in the high-security PVV offices in The Hague parliamentary complex in November. He claims to have had over 200 entries so far.
Despite supporting free speech, Rutte said that ‘not everything that can be said, has to be said.’ At the same time, people in the Netherlands, whether Christian or Muslim, should be able to take a hit, he said.
Foreign minister Stef Blok has also assured foreign governments that the competition is nothing to do with the cabinet. Pakistan in particular has expressed its displeasure at the competition.
In 2008, Wilders released a 16 minute video compilation called Fitna which was also much criticised before its release.
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