STOCKHOLM (AP) — A Swedish artist who angered Muslims by depicting the prophet Mohammed as a dog was assaulted Tuesday as furious protesters interrupted his university lecture about the limits of free speech.
Lars Vilks told The Associated Press a man leaped from the front row and head-butted him as he was delivering his lecture at Uppsala University, breaking Vilks’ glasses but leaving him uninjured.
Police later said the attacker was stopped before he could reach Vilks and that the artist may have bumped into plain-clothes officers who briskly evacuated him from the room. Three people were detained, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the attacker was among them.
A video clip of the incident by a Swedish newspaper showed police using pepper spray and batons to hold off an angry crowd shouting “God is great” in Arabic after Vilks was escorted out of the lecture hall.
Vilks has faced numerous threats over his controversial drawing of Mohammed with a dog’s body, but Tuesday’s incident was the first physical assault directed against him.
Earlier this year U.S. investigators said Vilks was the target of an alleged murder plot involving Colleen LaRose, an American woman who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane,” and who now faces life in prison. She has pleaded not guilty.
Vilks made his rough sketch more than a year after 12 Danish newspaper cartoons of the prophet sparked furious protests in Muslim countries in 2006.
A Swedish newspaper printed the drawing, leading to further protests, and revived a heated debate in the West and the Muslim world about religious sensitivities and the limits of free speech.
It also led to numerous death threats against Vilks, who was temporarily moved to a secret location after al-Qaeda in Iraq put a $100,000 bounty on his head in September 2007.
Note: It is our policy to report acts of hatred under the news category ‘hate groups.’
Islam and Terrorism