Europe

Muhammad cartoons will be aired on TV - Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders gives a speech at a rally of the anti-immigration movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West in Dresden, Germany - 13 April 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Geert Wilders is well known for expressing his distaste for Islam

A Dutch far-right leader says cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad will be broadcast on Dutch TV despite them not being aired as he intended on Saturday.

Geert Wilders said a "misunderstanding" with the network meant they were not broadcast on a slot on national TV allocated to political parties.

The controversial cartoons were shown at an event in the US last month that was attacked by two gunmen who were shot dead by security guards.

Mr Wilders was a speaker at that event.

The airing of the cartoons was supposed to be a key moment for Mr Wilders in what some Muslims have described as his crusade against Islam, according to the BBC's Anna Holligan in The Hague.

But instead of cartoons, the slot allocated to Mr Wilder's Freedom Party featured an old recording about migrants.

'Blood-splattered map'

A furious Mr Wilders shared the film on social media after it failed to appear on TV.

The images feature a bearded man in various guises. In one picture, he is wearing robes standing over a blood-splattered map of the world, while another shows snakes protruding from his beard.

Mr Wilders initially accused the TV station of sabotage but has since retracted that statement, saying there was a mix-up and that the cartoons will be shown next week.

"I have just spoken to [Dutch broadcaster] NPO boss [Henk] Hagoort. It seems to have been a misunderstanding," he tweeted.

He added that Mr Hagoort "assured me the video will now be broadcast at 15:55 GMT on Wednesday."

Have pictures of Muhammad always been forbidden?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Two men were shot dead after attacking an event in Texas attended by Mr Wilders

The timing of the broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan is designed to have maximum impact, our correspondent adds.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are offensive to many Muslims.

Mr Wilders has often expressed his distaste for Islam and mass immigration and has called for the Koran to be banned in the Netherlands.

He decided to use a loophole allowing anything to be shown during a party political broadcast after parliament refused to exhibit the cartoons on its premises.

He says he is broadcasting the images to defend free speech following the attack on the conference in Garland, Texas, where the cartoons were first shown.

That conference included a contest that offered a $10,000 (£6,300) prize for a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Dutch embassies around the world have been placed on alert after Mr Wilders announced his plans to show the cartoons.

There were widespread protests in 2006 when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

In January, 12 people were murdered by two Islamist gunmen at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published similar cartoons.

And a gathering of free speech activists in the Danish capital Copenhagen was targeted by a gunman in February, killing a film director.

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