Protesting before seeing the winning cartoon.
Hundreds of Islamists are marching on Islamabad on Wednesday to demand that Imran Khan’s new government sever diplomatic ties with the Netherlands over a “blasphemous” cartoon competition.
The protest march, organised by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a political party dedicated to the punishment of blasphemy, presents the first major test of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration. Last year a similar protest by the TLP shut down the capital for almost a month.
In June, Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam MP who leads the country’s second largest party and has been found guilty of inciting hatred, invited submissions of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, which Islam forbids. The $10,000 (£7,700) competition is due to open in November, with 200 entries so far.
“We can be martyred or arrested,” said one of the TLP’s leaders, Peer Afzal Qadri, “but we will not return until either the cartoon contest is stopped or the Dutch envoy is expelled.”
The march will begin in Lahore and end at an unspecified location in the federal capital.
Khadim Rizvi, the firebrand cleric who founded the TLP, said that condemnation of the contest by the Pakistani government was not enough and “only jihad” was the solution.
Before Pakistan’s general election last month, Rizvi said if he had the power he would order a nuclear strike against the Netherlands if its government allowed the competition to go ahead.