Swedish cartoonist goes into hiding


LARS VILKS, a Swedish cartoonist whose sketch of the Prophet Muhammad enraged many Muslims, has gone into hiding following an attempted arson attack on his home.

The attack came days after Vilks, who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog in 2007, was head-butted while giving a lecture about freedom of speech at the University of Uppsala, about 70km from Stockholm.

He has started sleeping elsewhere since the attack against his home in Nyhamnslage, southern Sweden, on Friday.

Vilks said he had decided to sleep elsewhere as a precaution, but did not think there would be another attack against him now due to increased police patrols.

“During the day I don’t think it is dangerous because I can keep watch over myself,” he told the Associated Press news agency. “But I have to realise that I can’t be there during the night.”

The artist has faced numerous threats over his 2007 sketch. Earlier this year, US investigators said Vilks was the target of an alleged murder plot involving Colleen LaRose, an American woman who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane”. She has pleaded not guilty.

Swedish police arrested a 21-year-old man on Saturday and a 19-year-old man yesterday on suspicion of the attempted arson. They found bottles of gasoline near Vilks’s slightly fire-damaged home. Several windows at the house were smashed. Vilks was not at home during the attack.

Vilks drew his offending picture more than a year after 12 cartoons of the prophet in a Danish newspaper sparked protests in Muslim countries. – (Agencies)