The controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a three-minute film on YouTube on Saturday after public television didn’t air the program as planned.
Wilders, a parliamentarian for the Freedom Party, had intended the film to be televised during a slot granted to political parties in the Netherlands. Dutch public broadcasting system NPO said it had received the wrong footage and the program would air on June 24.
“It’s important we show them,” Wilders said of the nine cartoons in the film. “That is the only way to assure that the terrorists do not defeat freedom of speech.”
Wilders has been a vocal opponent of Islam and migration to the Netherlands, using his Twitter account to rail against everything from Islamic State killings to refugees seeking asylum. He has lived under police protection since 2004 following death threats. In his 2008 film “Fitna,” he called on Muslims to rip out “hate-preaching” verses from the Koran.
The politician, whose party controls 12 of the 150 seats in Dutch parliament, attended the exhibition of Muhammad cartoons last month in Texas where a shooting broke out, leaving the two attackers dead.
A spokesman for the Justice Ministry said the airing of the new film is an issue between Wilders and the broadcasting system. The Dutch government has not voiced official opposition to Wilders’ plans, though embassies around the world have been put on notice, newspaper De Volkskrant reported last week.
“We’ve got a wide freedom of expression in the Netherlands,” Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher told reporters in The Hague last week. “That’s a great thing. It’s one of the things that makes this a free and pleasant country. That freedom means that everyone can use it in its own way.”