Inspired by Sweden’s recent ’roundabout dogs’ craze, Vilks composed a series of sketches portraying the Muslim prophet Muhammad as just such a creature.
The well-known artist took his pictures to galleries in Värmland and Bohuslän. However, both refused to show the drawings on the grounds that the security risk was too great.
But now two groups – the Secular Muslims in Sweden (SEMUS) network and the magazine Minaret – have taken a joint decision to exhibit the sketches.
“This will take place at an established musical and cultural venue in Stockholm. Negotiations are underway and I think it will be ready at the beginning of next week,” SEMUS spokesman Hooman Anvari told news agency TT.
Anvari believes that there is a very good chance that the exhibition will go ahead as planned.
“Partly because there’s a public interest in generating a nuanced discussion on this issue and partly because Lars Vilks has agreed to participate,” he said.
While he himself considers the drawings to be tasteless, Anvari is adamant that they should be put on display.
“Our intention is to create a nuanced debate around freedom of speech, religious freedom and democracy. These issues tend to cause polarization if they are not tackled in the right way,” he said.
On August 23rd Minaret and SEMUS made it clear in a joint statement that they no longer had any interest in organizing an exhibition of Lars Vilks’ work.
Minaret said they had only ever been interested in dialogue and that an exhibition in their name was out of the question.
SEMUS elected to pull the plug on the exhibition after Vilks published a picture on his blog that was “undeniably anti-Semitic”.
“In view of Vilks’ anti-Semitic caricature, SEMUS has now decided to immediately stop the exhibition,” the organization said.