A London exhibition featuring cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad planned by an anti-sharia group has been cancelled after the risk of running it became "simply too high". Sharia Watch UK, along with online satirical magazine Vive Charlie, planned to stage the controversial Muhammad Cartoon exhibit in central London sometime in September, with Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders scheduled to talk at the event.
The group said it was "vital" they staged the event in order to "stand together in defiance and demand our right to free expression". A similar Muhammad art exhibition staged in Dallas, Texas, in May resulted in a shooting that left two gunmen dead and one security guard injured.
Sharia Watch UK director Anne Marie Waters has now confirmed the exhibition has been scrapped after meeting with Metropolitan Police and counter-terrorism officers and deciding the risk of injury or death was too great. She said: "Over the last few weeks, I have had several conversations with both Scotland Yard and counter-terror detectives.
"My conclusion? That the risk of running this exhibition is simply too high. When setting out to do something like this, one has to be prepared for the possibility of threats, or even violence, but it's easy to underestimate the impact such things will have on the people around you.
"There's a very real possibility that people could be hurt or killed - before, during, and after the event. This, together with the fact that our venue had indicated it wanted to pull out citing security and insurance concerns, and given the fear that people were feeling generally, the only responsible thing to do was to pull back and try to learn some lessons.
"I have not learned lessons as much as I have had my suspicions confirmed. There are two major messages to take on board from this episode: 1) Britain is a frightened nation, and 2) our freedom is not going away, it has gone," said Waters.
The co-host of the planned exhibit, Vive Charlie, is a satirical magazine set up in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, but it is not affiliated with the French publication.