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Malmö mayor concerned about Islam-critical show

Published: 20 Feb 2013 17:20 GMT+01:00

"Of course he has the right to display what he calls art anywhere he wants," Mayor Ilmar Reepalu told the TT news agency.

"But as far as I can gather, this is pretty bad art and I think they want to use the gallery for political ends," he added.

"Vilks is increasingly associated in people's minds with xenophobic groups at the far right of the political spectrum. I hope not a single person visits the gallery."

News of the show, set to open in July, prompted representatives from different religions in the multicultural southern city to call an emergency meeting,

Some observers appeared frightened that the show would provoke a violent reaction.

"I urge everyone to avoid violence in their demonstrations, because then the cause will be lost,” said Björn Lagerbäck of the municipal anti-discrimination project Dialogforum.

Vilks has faced numerous death threats since his drawing of the Muslim prophet with the body of a dog was first published by Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda in 2007. It was published to illustrate an editorial on free speech.

The new paintings of Muhammad would show the prophet - still with a dog's body - transplanted into famous works by artists including Claude Monet, Peter Paul Rubens and Anders Zorn, Vilks told the AFP news agency.

It was "hard to tell" whether the July exhibition would prompt more protests and threats, he added.

"At some point this has to be over and done with," said Vilks, who has already met with the police to discuss safety at the show.

In 2009, Colleen LaRose, an American woman calling herself "Jihad Jane", was arrested in the US with seven others for plotting to kill Vilks. She has pleaded guilty to terror charges and faces life behind bars.

Three men accused of plotting to murder him at an art fair in Gothenburg were acquitted by a Swedish court in January, but were fined for weapons possession.

Vilks told TT that he was pleased that his art has been given the green light by curator Henrik Rönnquist.

"It’s a breakthrough that he dares to put these paintings on show now. I am not trying to kick up a stink, I’d sooner get rid of all the drama. People should be able to criticize Islam," Vilks said.

The show's curator said that he is prepared to tackle the safety concerns, in order to stand up for free speech, democracy, and religious freedom.

TT/The Local/AFP/og

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Your comments about this article

18:23 February 20, 2013 by polartwist
Good stuff Major! You give opinions without visiting the gallery first! Congratulations.
20:04 February 20, 2013 by frenchviking
Thank you Vilks... we need more people like you!

Freedom of speech is number 1 in this part of the world and it will stay that way!

If you do not like it... no one forces you to stay here...

I tolerate religious people, christians, muslims and all other religions. So I expect that my laicity is tolerated as well.

If you do not like the expo... don't go!
21:40 February 20, 2013 by johan rebel
"The show's curator said that he is prepared to tackle the safety concerns, in order to stand up for free speech, democracy, and religious freedom."

Hear hear!

Now there's a brave man!

As for Reepalu: yellow coward and low-life jew-hating scumbag.
21:42 February 20, 2013 by Iraniboy
There is a difference between freedom of speech and a political agenda to belittle a group. Freedom of speech is for ordinary people and journalists who do not have political affiliation otherwise we will end up with the situation of Germany in 1940-s where an innocent practice of freedom of speech against a religion led to a nationwide belittling and humiliation of that group and finally to their death. The relation between Vilks and far-right political parties in Europe is more than clear and as Mayor pointed out it is solely for political purposes and not freedom.
22:05 February 20, 2013 by engagebrain
Iraniboy

you seem to have little understanding about Germany in the 1930s- The limits generally set on freedom of speech are when violence is encouraged and promoted.

Viks is hardly encouraging violent attacks on muslims - the violence seems to come from muslims and to be directed at him.

To judge by your chosen name you appear to be a supported of a regime that does not favour freedom of speech and instead of merely speaking against its opponents, kills them.
22:06 February 20, 2013 by Elf_Moon
A few years back, the concept of what the Nazis did would bring thoughts of horrid evil crimes committed to my mind- death, great sacrifice, unimaginable pain.

Now, mostly, it just makes me think of 'crazed leftists' making tired arguments, using the concept too much and belittling the strife of the Jews to meet the ends of what are usually poor arguments with little foundation.
22:25 February 20, 2013 by rafiq_kau
This is not a good practice for freedom of speech. There is no logic for making this type of art. Muslims love prophet Muhammed more than their life. Vilks has made this to hurt and to see reaction from muslims. This will make fun for him. Obviously it is a political issue.

Vilks has no right to do that. Prophet Muhammed is not his concern at any issue.

I believe that swedes are very kind to respect others. So swedes should think about this mater from all point of logical view . This kind of activity shows the misuse of freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech does not mean the right to say whatever we want and thus we can not do whatever we think . This is our speciality as human being.
00:09 February 21, 2013 by Svensksmith
I wonder if Viks had used Jesus as his subject matter what the reaction would have been.
00:14 February 21, 2013 by sawan
respect others and especially others beliefs and religion ,,,,,,,,,,, if you do not have any,,,,

freedom of speech does not mean you hurt other peoples feeling same like the limit of your stick ends when the limit of others nose begin

show respect and be respected

when will we get of these hatreds and crazy things

have not we learn anything from history???????????

or we do not want to learn,,,,,,,,

then show will go on as it,,,,,,,

but remeber all this is a disease and disease needs treatment,,,,,
01:29 February 21, 2013 by Frobobbles
#8 Svensksmith writes "I wonder if Viks had used Jesus as his subject matter what the reaction would have been. "

If you are referring to the 'rondell' art, you should know that he made one Muhammed dog, one Jesus elephant and one Jewish Sow.

This is in a country where the Arch Bishop can ok to put up something like Ecce Homo in the cathedral.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecce_Homo_%28exhibition%29

So the very point of this is the widespread illegal and violent reactions from many muslims, which does not occur in the other religions.
02:39 February 21, 2013 by Eric1
In our tolerate society, tolerance of anything that's not anti-Swedish is not to be tolerated. Forward comrades.
03:49 February 21, 2013 by engagebrain
rafiq_kau

'Muslims love prophet Muhammed more than their life'

Many people think that all religions are delusions - there are no god(s) but many claim to speak in their name. Many believe that every religion, except their own, is false - logically most of them must be wrong.

Just as you are free to follow your religion we are free to laugh at the absurdities of each and every religion.
08:29 February 21, 2013 by RobinHood
I'm with the mayor - for once.

The mayor has to balance Mr Vilk's right to free speech with the reputation and safety of his city and all its citizens.

The excitement caused by Mr Vilks' exhibition will make Malmö, once again, a global icon for intolerance and violence. Malmö has seen quite enough of that, thank you very much, and really doesn't need any more.
08:31 February 21, 2013 by Iraniboy
@engagebrain

First of all, assuming that I support Iranian regime merely shows your prejudice and that is in fact in line with the rest of thinking line.

Germany in 1930s didn't magically start a violence against Jews. They first started by belittling, humiliation and playing the victim role in the hands of Jews. After public opinion was ready and hatred was build-up they started the second phase which was justified violence! This is exactly what political groups that Vilk are associated with are doing and they are following every foot step!
08:53 February 21, 2013 by EP
Vilks is hardly an artist, he's only a provocateur and nothing more. I agree with free-speech and artistic freedom, but his so-called "art" is not only unoriginal, but rather a copy Kurt Westgaard (who I praise for his original courage) but also insensitive and lacking any knowledge. Just like that muffin from Lund who used concentration camp ashes in his "art". Vilks is just beating a dead horse and hardly making any original statement ... typically Swedish.
10:37 February 21, 2013 by engagebrain
Iraniboy

you chose your name, I as I said made a reasonable assumption about its meaning. Your response does not actually include your position on mass muder by a theocractic state, or even occasional murder - please enlighten me.

Viks pokes fun at the absudities of religions, not races, religion is a choice.

Viks does not advocate violence against anyone, but tmany of his detractors do.
10:45 February 21, 2013 by Kevin Harris
Freedom of speech is a powerful tool to be used wisely. It was hard-earned by the blood and sacrifice of millions of people over hundreds of years; those people must be respected.

We all have the right to exercise our right to free speech and shout "Fire" in a crowded cinema, but would we be wise if we did so?

It seems best to acknowledge that Lars Vilks has the right to exhibit his art, but to ask him politely to do so wisely. Choosing powder keg Malmö as a venue, is not wise.
11:04 February 21, 2013 by friendonlyyours
You all swedes like him and his art so much why don't he make art with his family. I hope everyone will like it. But may be his daughter will go to court to do a humiliation case on him. See a example here http://www.thelocal.se/46306/20130220/#.USXwpZ01iUk

But when a Muslim who love his Prophet more then his family go to court for humiliation of his Prophet or protest it is freedom of speech, WOW what double slandered society !

This kind of people are like HIV aids for society who eat the body (society) rapidly.

Here is universal formula give respect and get respect.
12:53 February 21, 2013 by Iraniboy
@engagebrain

My name refers to a physical fact! That fact that i happen to be born and/or lived in Iran. It doesn't say what I believe. That is very unfortunate that you haven't learnt this at this age. I didn't find it relevant to this topic to start my comment by renouncing of Iran government to make sure prejudiced people do not judge me wrong!

Religion is choice and not race! But the majority of people tend to couple a specific religions to a specific race. In case of Jews it was Semitic people and in case of Muslims today it is mainly Arabs and Middle Eastern people. So nowadays separation of religion and race has used as an scapegoat by the same racists to justify their new era of racist political agenda.

Like I said before Nazis were not advocating violence against Jews in the beginning. They started off by belittling, playing the victim role then humiliation and violence. It is exactly the same patter today!
15:46 February 21, 2013 by engagebrain
Iraniboy

in no sense is your name a physical fact.

Viks is not advocating violence against anyone, he is poking many religions and the religious, which sadly reveals that some believers are dangerously intolerant and have not picked up on ideas of personnal freedom and free speech. The corollary of your freedom to pray and speak is our freedom to laugh and criticise.

The group killing most muslims at the moment appear to be other muslims. But it seems that muslims killing muslims and destroying mosques and I assume korans is fine, but if a non muslim laughs at your religion he is threatened wth death.

The Nazis denigrated jews and made false accusations, accusations that remain current in the middle east. Viks is clearly annoying some muslims but not denigrating them, spreading lies or advocating violence.
18:30 February 21, 2013 by Mark S.
rafiq_kau says "Freedom of speech does not mean the right to say whatever we want", but that is wrong. Freedom of speech means EXACTLY that you have the right to say whatever you want.

Any limit is a restriction on freedom of speech. No country in the world has unrestricted freedom of speech -- not even the US, which likes to make a big fuss about it. There are always some limits that are intended to protect the rights of others. Restrictions on libel (saying untrue things about others) are one example. So is the "fire in a crowded theater" example.

If you argue against Vilks displaying his cartoons, you are arguing against free speech. Accept that and make your argument. Say "I think we should prevent his speech because ..."

But be careful what you wish for: A free society cannot have a "right to not be offended". If you have a right to not be offended, then so do I. If you can ban Vilks's cartoons because they offend you, I can ban the Koran because it offends me. Do you want to live in a country where Bibles and Korans are forbidden?
03:48 February 22, 2013 by bcterry
For the muslims who say it's not right to offend others for their beliefs, you're all hypocrites.

As far as those who say muslims love muhamad more than their life, WE DON'T CARE!

Any muslims care to give their us their opinion on a 54 year old man having sexual intercorse with a 9 year old?
07:57 February 22, 2013 by svenskmat
Hi all, , if u insult Jesus at the face of any christain, he will just laugh, some might tell u that on the jugement day God will not be happy with you,, infact, it is the sinner and God who regulates their problem . but i do not know why Islam is phanatical in nature, mohammed is no man to anyone , he does not provide food to me or any of my brothers , i do not care if some people love him.
16:54 February 22, 2013 by rufus.t.firefly
The mayor would be more credible speaking against the purported vilification of a one religious group if he, himself, did not so passionately vilify another group, namely Jews.

Can we call for a nationwide popular vote for a one year moratorium on any remarks by Mr. Reepalu? The only restriction will be that he must be accompanied wherever he goes by an Orthodox Rabbi with a dirty sock ready to insert into the Mayor's mouth if he begins to speak.

As to the exhibit of Mr. Vilks' work, art and politics often intersect, and separating one from the other is not always easy. Moreover, judging the merit of art is always partly subjective, but certain things can be agreed on. One is that Mr. Reepalu's remark that he has heard rumors that it is "bad art" are no more credible than anything else that pops out of his mouth.
03:10 February 23, 2013 by Gardian
guys,

I wonder if you ever thought about the true importance of the rather glib saying ''Where my freedom stops yours begins''.

you cannot juts go around and do what ever you want because of ''freedom of speech''. our government must arrest Mr Vilk before he start violence as he advocating for hate speech, you cannot offend someone's believe ,faith and say I was practicing my freedom of speech,... specially with muslims who made it clear please stop offending our religion.

in the contrary, for muslims please do not give this guy what he wants free ''publicity''. just ignore him ... end of the story.
08:30 February 23, 2013 by calebian22
No Gardian you are wrong. The threat of violence over disrespect is disproportionate. Muslims need to learn restraint. You can be offended without becoming violent. That is the end of the story.
15:11 February 23, 2013 by bcterry
you cannot juts go around and do what ever you want because of ''freedom of speech''. our government must arrest Mr Vilk before he start violence as he advocating for hate speech, you cannot offend someone's believe ,faith and say I was practicing my freedom of speech,... specially with muslims who made it clear please stop offending our religion. "

If you arrest Vilk for what you call hate speech and advocating violence, then i want the the koran banned because it is filled with hate speech and calls for violence against non muslims that are carried out on a daily basis by muslims.
02:31 February 24, 2013 by Britt-Marie7
It is so simple everyone! No one needs to be offended. If you don't like it, don't look at it!!! Then there is no need to be offended!!! We do have Free Speech! This is Sweden, not one of the Muslims countries. If you don't like Free Speech, then go back to your old country and you will be with people who think the way you do. Very simple, see, no one needs to be offended!
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