KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has voiced deep concern over the move by Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to revive a caricature competition depicting Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) despite strong rejections and condemnations to a similar move earlier.
Wisma Putra, in a statement this evening, said Malaysia uphelds the freedom of speech and expression as fundamental human rights.
“However, to denigrate and tarnish Islam’s most sacred Holy Prophet is beyond the scope of such rights.
“It is an act of provocation against Islam and its more than one billion followers around the world.
“It is certainly disgraceful and totally unacceptable”, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the move was ill-intended and malicious, and would only sow disharmony and hatred and therefore deserved the strongest condemnation.
“Malaysia therefore calls on all peace loving individuals and organisations to reject this move,” it said.
Wisma Putra added that as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, Malaysia continued to promote and maintain harmonious relations and peaceful co-existence not only among the country’s people of different faiths and convictions, but also in the context of the diverse global community.
On Sunday, Wilders had announced that he had ended the contest only hours after announcing the contentious event.
In a tweet posting, the Party of Freedom (PVV) head claimed that international attention on the contest had enabled him to make a point about the importance of freedom of speech.
Images of the Prophet Muhammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam as idolatrous. Caricatures are regarded by most Muslims as highly offensive.
Wilders cancelled a similar contest in August last year after police arrested a man who had threatened to kill him over his plan.
At the time, plans to hold the contest also prompted large demonstrations in Pakistan and Wilders said he felt the danger of violence against innocent people was too great.