Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his controversial cartoon of Islamic prophet Muhammad, died in a car accident — along with police officers who had been assigned to protect him — on Sunday.
Vilks had lived under police protection for many years, since his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Muhammad having the body of a dog. He had received numerous death threats.
The accident reportedly involved a truck colliding with a civilian police car in which Vilks and his police protection were traveling, news media said.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks has died. Vilks was most famous for his depictions of the prophet Muhammad, a work of art & exercise in freedom of speech which forced him to live in a secret location with 24/7 security due to constant threats from Islamist extremists pic.twitter.com/60KD9iGz8a
— Annika H Rothstein (@truthandfiction) October 3, 2021
The Swedish news agency TT said police had confirmed that Vilks, 75, was traveling in the car with two police officers, and the newspaper Dagens Nyheter said the artist’s partner confirmed his death.
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 hospitalized, according to police.
“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,” said a police spokesperson, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.
The Swedish painter Lars Vilks, who insulted the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was killed in a terrible accident that burned inside his car for several hours, accompanied by two of his bodyguards.#Accident #Larsvilks #Sweden #لارس_فيلكس pic.twitter.com/EGXcMgpgEI
— متداول (@Tadawlltwt) October 4, 2021
Al-Qaida puts bounty on Islam cartoon creator
Vilks’ life changed radically 13 years ago after he drew a sketch of Muhammad with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even a favorable one, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Al-Qaida put a bounty on Vilks’ head. In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden.
In 2015, Vilks attended a free-speech seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark, that was attacked by a lone gunman who killed a Danish film director and wounded three police officers.
Vilks, widely believed to have been the intended target, was whisked away unharmed by bodyguards. The gunman later killed a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue and wounded two more officers before he was killed in a firefight with police.
Last year, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.