Lars Vilks: Mohammed cartoonist dies in traffic collision

Vilks’ life changed radically after he drew a sketch of Mohammed with a dog’s body.
Vilks’ life changed radically after he drew a sketch of Mohammed with a dog’s body.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who lived under police protection since his sketch of the Prophet Mohammed, has died in a road crash, according to reports.

Published

The Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who lived under police protection since his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed with a dog’s body brought death threats, has died in a road crash, according to reports.

The accident reportedly involved a truck colliding with a civilian police car in which Lars Vilks and his police protection were travelling, news media said.

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 cause of the accident was under investigation.

Vilks was largely unknown outside Sweden before his Mohammed drawing. At home, he was best known for building a sculpture made of driftwood in a nature reserve in southern Sweden without permission, triggering a lengthy legal battle.

He was fined, but the seaside sculpture — a jumble of wood nailed together in chaotic fashion — draws tens of thousands of visitors a year.

Vilks’ life changed radically 13 years ago after he drew a sketch of Mohammed with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, 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. Last year, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.