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High demand for Muhammad cartoons

Swedish artist Lars Vilks has confirmed that he has sold around 20 copies of his cartoon depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog to private collectors, according to the Helsingborgs Dagbladet daily.

High demand for Muhammad cartoons

“The interest for the drawings is pretty high. I have so far sold around 20 pieces. It is a scanned version on better quality paper and signed,” the controversial artist confirmed to the newspaper.

Vilks said that the interest has come from private buyers and added that he experiences no moral dilemma selling a work that many consider deeply insulting.

“To sell a provocative and offensive picture is not something that I see as problematic. So far it has also only concerned private purchases. If an institution would buy it in, it would most certainly be regarded in a different way,” Vilks said.

In a new turn to the controversy which returned to the spotlight this month after the discovery of an alleged plot to murder the unrepentant artist, a colleague Kent Viberg has created a similar piece featuring Vilks in place of the prophet Muhammad.

When the alleged plot became known on March 9th, several major Swedish newspapers re-printed the cartoons as a gesture of support for Vilks and freedom of expression, but Viberg has instead accused his colleague of being interested only in marketing himself.

“I do not feel sorry for Lars Vilks,” Viberg told local Karlshamn newspaper Östran arguing that the Muhammad cartoons contribute neither to art nor the public debate.

Kent Viberg unveiled his work at a roundabout in the southern Swedish city of Karlshamn on Thursday featuring a French bull dog with a photograph of Lars Vilks at its head.

Vilks responded by arguing that he considers the debate over freedom of expression to be an important one and that there remain problems to be discussed.

Lars Vilks’ Muhammad cartoons were first published in local Örebro newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in 2007 to accompany an editorial on freedom of expression. Vilks confirmed to Helsingborgs Dagblad that customer demand to buy the cartoons was fairly non-existent at the time.

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VILKS

‘Jihadist’ in Swedish cartoonist plot arrested

The man, who was travelling with an Irish passport, is wanted by authorities in the US for being part of an al-Qaeda cell suspected of planning an attack on a Swedish cartoonist.

'Jihadist' in Swedish cartoonist plot arrested
The suspect in Spain. Photo: Mossos d'Esquadra

Ali Charaf Damache was detained on Thursday evening at a hotel in the tourist heart of Barcelona, the Catalan regional Interior Ministry confirmed on Friday.

Police were alerted to his presence in Barcelona thanks to a telephone tip-off to the emergency 112 number.

“We became aware that this person was in Barcelona earlier this week,” said Jordi Jané, the regional interior minister for Catalonia in a press conference.

The 50-year-old holds both Irish and Algerian nationality and is wanted by the United States for alleged membership of a terrorist cell linked to al-Qaeda that recruited and radicalized Muslims and financed and planned terrorist attacks.
 
 
 
The US issued an international arrest warrant for him in July 2011 and he was detained in Ireland last year although two extradition requests were denied and he was allowed to go free.
 
The US alleges Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose, who used the online name Jihad Jane, and others to create a terror cell in Europe.
 
LaRose was sentenced in January 2014 to 10 years in prison after being convicted of planning to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the head of the Muslim prophet Mohammad on a dog.
 
Lars Vilks emerged unscathed from an attack in Copenhagen last February in which two people died when a gunman opened fire during a talk on freedom of expression in which the cartoonist was taking part.