Swedish Artist Targeted in Copenhagen Shooting Known for Provocative Works

Among Lars Vilk's works include a sketch of Jesus as a pedophile and a drawing of Mohammed's head on a dog's body.

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Swedish artist Lars Vilks, January 3, 2012.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks, January 3, 2012.Credit: AP

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, 68, is said to be the target of Saturday's attack in Copenhagen, which left a civilian dead and three police officers wounded. He has created towering sculptures out of driftwood and sketched Jesus as a pedophile but nothing grabbed more attention than his drawing of the prophet Mohammed's head on a dog's body.

After the organizers of a Swedish arts exhibition decided to withdraw the caricature from a 2007 show, the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper responded by publishing the work alongside an article on freedom of speech and self-censorship.

The newspaper's decision drew a furious reaction from across the Muslim world and led to numerous death threats against Vilks, who is under police protection.

Arsonists attacked his home, he was subjected to repeated threatening phone calls, a protester hit and injured him while he was delivering a lecture at Uppsala University, and an Al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq put a bounty of 150,000 dollars on Vilks' head.

In May 2014, Colleen LaRose, a U.S. convert to Islam who went by the nickname "Jihad Jane," was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her involvement in a failed plot to kill Vilks.

In the wake of the threats, several newspapers reprinted the Mohammed caricature, saying it was necessary to defend freedom of speech.

"It should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way," Vilks told CNN in 2007, adding that he knew it would bring a strong reaction. "If you insult one (religion), then you should insult the other ones."

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