LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – An Islamist party in Pakistan called for the expulsion of the Dutch ambassador on Wednesday as it launched a protest against a far-right Dutch politician’s plan for a cartoon competition featuring caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
Several thousand activists gathered in the eastern city of Lahore for the demonstration organized by Tehreek-e-Labbaik, a party that amassed the fifth largest number of votes in a general election last month having campaigned as a defender of the laws and punishments for crimes of blasphemy.
Party leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi set out from Lahore’s historic center at the head of a protest he aims to take through the towns of Punjab province to the capital Islamabad, where protesters will stage a sit-in to pressure Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan to cut diplomatic ties with the Netherlands.
“The Dutch ambassador should be immediately deported,” Labbaik spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters. “We will only stop when the government meets this demand.”