Suspects in Vilks attack released

Three suspects arrested for an attack on controversial artist Lars Vilks have been released on Wednesday, police have said.

Suspects in Vilks attack released

Meanwhile, late on Wednesday afternoon, Vilks’ website was hacked.

The two men and one woman were arrested on Tuesday evening after violence marred a lecture by Vilks in Uppsala. They were released after several hours, according to police in Uppsala.

The incident is currently under investigation.

“One man is under suspicion for attempted assault and the other man for violence against a public official. The woman is suspected of violence against a public official and harassment after spitting in a police officer’s face,” said Frederick Selberg, Uppsala Police officer in command.

Vilks showed a film at the lecture of naked gay men wearing masks representing the prophet Muhammad. Minutes into the lecture, a man tried to attack Vilks. Police officers stepped in and Vilks left the hall. However, fights broke out between the police and the three suspects who were later arrested. Two police officers were slightly wounded.

Vilks has received numerous death threats after causing controversy for drawing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad as a dog. Vilks was attacked while speaking at the university’s philosophy faculty on Tuesday afternoon. He was not badly hurt and was taken to a secure location following the attack.

American Colleen R. LaRose, who called herself “JihadJane” in a YouTube video, was charged in October for trying to recruit terrorists to murder the artist. The arrest was made public in March when seven people were arrested in Ireland over a plot to kill Vilks. Four of those detained were later released.

LaRose’s trial, in which she faces terrorism charges, was scheduled to start on May 3rd. It will now be delayed for months after the case was declared “complex.” A judge heard a government request to apply security laws to the handling of evidence, allowing prosecutors and defence attorneys to sift through evidence from a dozen computer hard drives.


Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for Muhammad cartoon, killed in car accident

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as well as his huge wooden sculptures, died in a car accident on Sunday.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks gives a lecture
Swedish artist Lars Vilks, pictured here giving a lecture in 2015, died in a car collision on Sunday. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The 75-year-old has lived under police protection due to death threats over his 2007 Prophet Muhammad drawing. He and two police officers were killed in a collision with an oncoming truck, Swedish police confirmed to AFP, and the accident is currently not being treated as suspicious.

“This is being investigated like any other road accident. Because two policemen were involved, an investigation has been assigned to a special section of the prosecutor’s office,” a police spokesperson told AFP, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.

The accident occurred near the small town Markaryd when the car Vilks was travelling in crashed into an oncoming truck. Both vehicles caught fire and the truck driver was sent to hospital for treatment, according to police. In a statement, the police said the cause of the accident was unclear.

“The person we were protecting and two colleagues died in this inconceivable and terribly sad tragedy,” said regional police head Carina Persson.

Vilks had been under police protection since 2010, after his cartoon of Muhammad with a dog’s body published in Swedish newspapers three years earlier prompted outrage among those who consider depictions of the Muslim prophet deeply offensive or blasphemous. Al-Qaeda offered a $100,000 reward for Vilks’ murder.

The depiction also sparked diplomatic friction, with Sweden’s then prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt meeting ambassadors from several Muslim countries to ease tensions. In 2015, Vilks survived a gun attack at a free-speech conference in Copenhagen that left a Danish film director dead.

While the Muhammad drawing is what Vilks was best known for internationally, he was primarily a sculptor.

His most significant work is the driftwood sculpture Nimis, which he began building in a Skåne national park in 1980.

This work was also not without controversy; Vilks built it illegally without acquiring a permit, sparking a legal dispute with local authorities who demanded it be destroyed. The artist sold both Nimis and a second artwork, and although he was fined for building them, and Nimis was badly damaged in a 2016 fire, they remain largely standing today.