• Sweden's news in English

Interview: Lars Vilks

Rami Abdelrahman · 10 Mar 2008, 17:57

Published: 10 Mar 2008 17:57 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Rami Abdelrahman caught up with the artist on the sidelines of a seminar arranged by Equal Rights Now in Stockholm to coincide with International Women's Day. Earlier in the day, Vilks projected a number of photos and paintings highlighting instances of discrimination against women in Iran.

You are in the process of producing a musical right now. What's does it deal with?

It deals with the whole process of creating “Muhammad: the roundabout dog” and all that happened. It is an ecstatic documentary in musical form.

Where will the premiere for the musical be?

In Denmark. The first part is a trailer which you can see and listen to on YouTube, and a second trailer will follow in a couple of weeks.

How did the idea of producing a musical come to you?

The presentation of the idea involves a huge artwork, so one way to collect all the parts is to make it a musical. The musical is a long project. We don’t really have plans yet on how to arrange it.

Is it going to be a comedy?

I wonder. It will mainly be a documentary, but there will be some funny parts. It will be a mixture of projecting pictures and live performances.

CNN reported that your life is under threat, and more recently local media reported that maps detailing the interior of your house were found in the possession of suspected terrorists. How does this affect your life and art?

Not very much any more. I am living a normal life… Well you have to look around a bit, but I am used to it. This has been going on for more than half a year now and eventually one gets used to this lifestyle.

I mean, mainly this is propaganda. They are trying to frighten people with psychological warfare, which is the main thing… I hope.

Did it change the direction of your art?

No. On the contrary, it is more interesting since there is a new interest in art among terrorists. It is a new field for them.

Recently, there were commentaries in the Arab media suggesting that several regimes in the Middle East were using the “cartoon controversy” as an excuse to suppress freedom of expression in their countries. They said it provided the basis for people to insult religion and spread hatred. How do you react to such statements and political stances?

This is just nonsense. Freedom of expression does not exist in these countries, there is only the voice of governments and leaders. They do not understand that outside their world there is an independent voice of freedom.

Did you imagine that these leaders would use this very voice against freedom of expression?

I couldn’t foresee all these things… I started my project in a modest way… I did not see that they would use art as a political weapon but now I can expect anything out of them.

However, looking at the bigger picture, you should see that something is happening. The more cartoons and drawings are made, the less interesting it will be. In the end people will get used to it.

I think the west is making a very big mistake by not publishing them, because if they publish them, then the secrecy and mystery would disappear.

Story continues below…

How do you think the Arab and Muslim world could become more open and embrace such freedoms as the freedom of expression that we have in the west?

These countries still have a long way to go. Well, at least some of them... since some have more or less democratic values, but are overruled by religion. It was like this in Europe in the Middle Ages. So we know the developments ahead.

An example of which is perhaps Iran, which was the focus of your presentation today…

Yes, I was trying to spread attention about how politicians do not care about the situation of women situation in Iran. Why should they? They did not get any votes for that. We have to work hard to get the media’s interest to put pressure on regimes.

I mean, criticism is not popular in these subjects, because they say that it will be understood in the wrong way, as if the criticism is against all Muslims. So it is better not to criticize at all. We must be able to separate normal, ordinary Muslims from those who run dictatorships.

Rami Abdelrahman (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available