September 8, 2018 / 7:02 PM / 16 days ago

Shaken Dutch lawmaker Wilders says no more Prophet cartoons, for now

CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) - Dutch lawmaker and anti-Islam campaigner Geert Wilders has said he has no plans, for now, to revive a competition of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed after it emerged as a motive for a stabbing in Amsterdam last week.

FILE PHOTO: Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders visits a local market in Antwerp, Belgium, with members of the Flemish right-wing Vlaams Belang party ahead of Belgian local elections, September 2, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Vidal/File Photo

Wilders, speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Italy, expressed shock over the attack, in which a man stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam’s central station. Dutch media identified the assailant as a 19-year-old Afghan.

FILE PHOTO: Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders appears in court in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 17, 2018, for his appeal against a conviction for inciting discrimination. REUTERS/Francois Walschaerts/File Photo

The attack came after Wilders cancelled plans to hold the cartoon competition, which had also drawn a complaint by Pakistan’s new foreign minister, who said cartoon depictions of the Prophet could incite hate and intolerance.

“For now I will not be doing it soon again, for sure,” Wilders told Reuters at the Ambrosetti conference, where he had been invited to speak on the future of the European Union.

“On the one hand you say that you should never give in to people who threaten to use violence against freedom of speech,” he said, adding that he had spent 15 years living in safe houses and escorted by a security detail due to constant death threats.

“If it would have been only about me, I would have continued and done it again but it was not only about me — it was about innocent people,” he said.

Reporting by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Helen Popper

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