Swedish cartoonist who drew blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad killed in car crash

Published October 4, 2021
This file photo shows Swedish artist Lars Vilks during a freedom of speech discussion in Helsinki, Finalnd. — Reuters/File
This file photo shows Swedish artist Lars Vilks during a freedom of speech discussion in Helsinki, Finalnd. — Reuters/File

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who stirred worldwide controversy in 2007 with blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was killed in a car crash near the southern town of Markaryd on Sunday, police said.

Vilks, 75, who had been living under police protection since the drawings were published, was travelling in a police vehicle that collided with a truck. Two police officers were also killed.

"This is a very tragic incident. It is now important to all of us that we do everything we can to investigate what happened and what caused the collision," Swedish police said in a statement on Monday.

"Initially, there is nothing that points to anyone else being involved."

Since the publication of the cartoons, Vilks had been living under round-the-clock police guard following threats against his life. He had a bounty put on his head and his house was fire-bombed.

In 2015, one person was killed in Copenhagen, Denmark, at a meeting meant to mark the 25th anniversary of an Iranian fatwa against British writer Salman Rushdie, which Vilks attended.

Vilks was widely seen as the intended target.

Vilks had said that the cartoons were not intended to provoke Muslims, but to challenge political correctness in the art world.

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