ISLAMABAD (Reuters): Pakistan’s new foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi complained to his Dutch counterpart on Tuesday over a planned anti-Islam cartoon contest, saying “such acts spread hate and intolerance”.
Far-right Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders has planned the contest for later in the year, featuring caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
A Pakistani foreign office statement said Qureshi said the planned event would hurt the feelings of Muslims around the world.
Qureshi said later he planned to take up the issue with several world leaders. “We have raised this issue at several levels,” he said. “We have contacted the United Nations. We have contacted the European Union.”
A spokeswoman for Netherlands Foreign Minister Stef Block said Block had underlined during his phone conversation with Qureshi that the Dutch government did not endorse Wilders’ initiative.
On Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters it was difficult for him to see “what positive goal” Wilders hoped to accomplish, but the opposition lawmaker was exercising his rights under Dutch freedom of speech laws.
Pakistan’s upper house of parliament on Monday condemned the contest. Prime Minister Imran Khan said: “They don’t understand how much they hurt us when they do such acts.”
An extremist Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan is organising a protest march against the contest on Wednesday.
The protesters are scheduled to march from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital Islamabad.
Wilders plans to hold the contest and display the cartoons on the walls of his political party’s room in parliament. He says he’s had “hundreds” of entries.