LAHORE, Pakistan — Those convicted of dishonoring the Prophet Muhammad or desecrating the Koran in Pakistan face the death penalty — one of the harshest punishments in the Islamic world.
But the harshness doesn’t stop at the South Asian’s country’s borders. Many Pakistanis, whose nation was birthed as a harbor and homeland for South Asia’s Muslim population, say they expect the same punishments to apply to non-Muslims abroad.
A diplomatic rift opened between Pakistan and The Netherlands after populist right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders announced in June a Prophet Muhammad cartoon competition with a $10,000 prize. The contest, now canceled, was clearly designed to provoke Muslims, who rioted in the past after Muhammed caricatures appeared in foreign newspapers. About 200 people submitted cartoons before Mr. Wilders‘ November deadline. Others in the Muslim world expressed disapproval of the stunt, but the reaction was far sharper in Pakistan.
After news of Mr. Wilders‘ contest spread, demonstrators in Pakistan called to sever diplomatic ties with the Dutch government.
Leading the demonstrations was cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, whose far-right political party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, aims to protect “the honor of the prophet.” Confident after garnering 2 million votes in the July parliamentary elections, Mr. Rizvi took to the streets and asked the government to launch a missile strike against the Netherlands.
“The only way to stop the release of blasphemous cartoons is through jihad,” Mr. Rizvi said at a rally at Data Darbar, a Sufi Muslim shrine in Lahore.