Arson attack on Muhammad artist’s home

Arson attack on Muhammad artist's home
Police have launched an investigation into arson after the home in southern Sweden of controversial artist Lars Vilks sustained fire damage on Friday night.

Vilks was not at his home in Nyhamnsläge at the time of the attack. An acquaintance of the artist discovered the damage on Saturday morning. Windows had been smashed, there was minor fire damage to the front of the house and plastic bottles filled with petrol were found inside the property, local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad reports.

Police said the house was empty and the fire had dissipated of its own accord. A forensic examination was carried out on Saturday morning.

“We’ve launched a preliminary investigation into arson,” police spokeswoman Sofie Österheim told news agency TT.

The embattled artist, who was physically attacked at a lecture theatre in Uppsala earlier in the week, said he was now considering moving from his home.

“I don’t think I can live here full time. It’s obvious this is a high-risk area. I guess I’ll just be here at certain times,” Vilks told TT.

The artist left the house at 10.30pm on Friday and was not aware of the damage until the morning.

“It wasn’t all that bad from a purely material perspective. They’ve broken window panes and set fire to a curtain by sticking a hand through a window,” said Vilks.

“It’s not so pleasant, but I’ve become hardened. I get threats all the time, but it’s hard to assess what’s behind it.”

In this case, Vilks believed the perpetrators were amateurs.

“These are the kind of people who drive off with some petrol and try to start a fire. But one thing can lead to another.”

Vilks has had a $100,000 bounty on his head from an Al-Qaeda-linked group since the publication of his drawing of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog in 2007.