Cartoonist forced to leave home

Police have told Swedish artist Lars Vilks that it is not safe for him to remain at his home in southern Sweden following threats on his life from an al-Qaeda front organization in Iraq.

The artist behind a controversial caricature of the Muslim prophet Muhammad was only allowed access to his home outside Nyhamnsläge after police had conducted a thorough search on Monday morning.

Police allowed the artist to pick up a few belongings but told him that they did not want him staying there in the foreseeable future.

“I’m prepared to move somewhere else,” Vilks told news agency TT.

The artist has had to cancel a number of planned lectures but says that he is able to do most of his work sitting in front of his computer.

Asked whether the sketch of Muhammad as a roundabout dog was worth all the trouble, Vilks remained defiant.

“Yes, I still think so. I think the artwork has developed well so far and is on its way towards becoming superb,” he said.

Vilks described the events and the debate surrounding his drawings as a repeat of the Danish caricature row, except on a smaller scale and so far without bloodshed.

“I still hold out strong hopes of a happy ending in that this too may end up as a farce,” he said.