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Vilks takes fight to Facebook foes

TT/The Local · 8 Jun 2010, 06:52

Published: 08 Jun 2010 06:52 GMT+02:00

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"I have joined the group Kill Lars Vilks," the artist confirmed.

Vilks' notorious sketch of the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a dog was published in 2007, and since then he has lived in threat for his life. He was recently attacked at a lecture in Uppsala and his home was targeted in an arson attack.

Furthermore a woman sits interred in a US jail for allegedly plotting to kill the previously little known Swedish artist.

In response to recent events a group of ex-Muslims arranged a discussion meeting on Monday and invited Vilks to talk about the defence of freedom of expression and to stand up to extremist Islamist violence.

"It doesn't matter if it is right or wrong to draw Muhammad, but he has a right to do so. Others have as much right to protest, but they have to learn that they can not threaten," Karim Shamihammadi, who represents the secular group, said.

The meeting was arranged to take place at Medborgarhuset in central Stockholm just a few hundred metres from the main city mosque.

Vilks was keen to stress that the incident in Uppsala did not involve people representative of the group often generally referred to as "Muslims".

"It is a question of a small clique who should not be given the opportunity to grow," Vilks said.

Despite calling them "a howling mob" the artist has been seeking contact with his enemies and opponents via Facebook, active in groups such as Kill Lars Vilks (Döda Lars Vilks) and We Who Hate Lars Vilks (Vi som hatar Lars Vilks).

"I have joined all of those groups. Many are intransigent, but there are a couple who are ready to discuss," he told the media after the meeting.

Vilks reported that he had been in contact with around a hundred people, even some who had threatened his life.

Story continues below…

"There are a surprising number that can be engaged in discussion, they can in some way understand me."

Through contact with these groups Vilks claims he has been invited to speak in immigrant areas of Sweden, such as Rosengård in Malmö and Rinkeby in Stockholm. Vilks confirms that he is prepared to do so, but it is up to the police to determine the security situation.

"It would be construed as a provocation if I just wandered in there and showed my face," he said.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

07:43 June 8, 2010 by asian123
religion has done enough damage to human kind.

it is time to mock religion.
08:48 June 8, 2010 by isenhand
I've always wondered; if god doesn't like soemthign why doesn't him kill the person? Why does he have to get his followers to do his dirty work?

Doesn't this all just show that god is imaginary?

The more mulsim resort to violence themselves, the more they show their religion is all just man made!
08:49 June 8, 2010 by StockholmSam
This Facebook page won't last long. As I understand it, Facebook policy does not permit pages that threaten others in any way. This will disappear especially fast since the threat against Vilks is credible.
08:59 June 8, 2010 by Juniperboy
I am sure he has made this group by himself just to get some more fame :-)
09:13 June 8, 2010 by Nora
"In order to engage in discussion with his antagonists ...",

Puff ! Do you think there is any rational basis for a discussion with a group named:"Kill Lars Vilks"?! There is no logic or thinking or whatsoever behind this sort of fanaticism. You can not a single point in common to make your discussion upon.

"... but there are a couple who are ready to discuss". Yes, they're ready to discuss on how to Kill you!!
09:28 June 8, 2010 by unt9
Why hes provoking these people, whats the point. Doesn't he understand, that some groups of people have their own values. Why doesn't he go to Britain, to some football game and try to insult some ultras there, that would be the same. I dont really understand what hes trying to prove here.
09:29 June 8, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Vilks is a useful tool of SAPO and other security forces. Anyone foolish enough to sign up on this site appears on SAPO's radar as a low-level terrorist threat. Nice to know if you are in the counter-terrorism business. That is why Facebook let a site called "Kill ...." remain open for more than 10 seconds.

Voluntarily, or by arrangement, Vilks is the equivalent of the goat that gets left out in the jungle in a tiger hunt. The idiot tigers that come and sniff at this particular goat must be really dumb. He's bait.
09:52 June 8, 2010 by jazzIIIlove
I admit Kevin. Vilks is like lightning conductor. I recommend SAPO to let Vilks wander in streets of Stockholm without a guard and deport anyone who shows hostility to him.
09:53 June 8, 2010 by flintis
All this hullabaloo about the cartoon of a pedophile, the moron/s who started this group should be arrested and charged with incitement to commit murder & sentenced to 500yrs solitary confinement
10:22 June 8, 2010 by saar

The islamists are already looking for you. I bet there is a group "Kill flintis" somewhere outthere. Heh.
10:42 June 8, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
It's a question of respect really. Respect for self, respect for others and respect for what others hold sacred. There's no diplomatic immunity for that not even in the department of philosophy

There is much latitude for self-expression in Islam.


There are also all the taboos. The pig is one forbidden animal and the dog (some men's best friend) is another. The dog also serves as an epithet for another lowest and lowliest form of uncleanness.

In mediaeval Christian propaganda, during which time “Turk” was synonymous with Muslim, a popular expletive for Islam's blessed Prophet of Islam was “ Mahound” - and it was the same crusader propaganda which propagated a calumny claiming that Muslims worship a trinity comprising the devil, Muhammad and the Black Stone in Mecca.

In Christian & atheist Europe there is a long tradition of vilifying Islam and Muslims.

In relation to Lars Vilks what immediately springs to mind is the fallout - in the aftermath of Thörbjorn Säfve's ” Var inte Rädd” (“ Don't be Afraid”) which is an explorative, fictionalized biography of al-Arabi – he who fell in love with a thirteen year old girl when he went on Pilgrimage to Mecca – he who wrote that “ sexual intercourse is the highest of meditation”.

The interest in Sävfe here is two-fold.: in one of the more literary Swedish journals ( if I remember rightly it was one published by the Library) and at that time he was being threatened by Muslims and as reported in that journal , he said “ Muslims can bark but they cannot bite.” - and at that point I was afraid - for his life – and this all happened somewhere in the Middle of the controversy about the fatwa on Salman Rushdie.

I think that it had something to do with the illustrations in his book.

Around that time ( when Arne Ruth was frantically chairing meeting after meeting about poetic license and the fate decreed by the fatwa and the price on his head) I chanced to meet Mr. Säfve at the top of the steps up from Saltmätargatn leading up to Rådmansgatan – had a brief conversation with him – went straight to the point and told him that some people don't appreciate others pissing on the grave of the Prophet of Islam salallahu alaihi wa salaam He then asked me, whether there was anything so holy that we could not talk about it.

The question was not answered but it's well known for instance that the Holy name of the Almighty may not be disrespected....
11:14 June 8, 2010 by richardbw
Do you think that Vilks knows that the 'V' sign he is using in the photo means 'f... off' in the UK?
11:16 June 8, 2010 by Nora
@StockholmSam: You're right. Groups with hate speech, etc are removed from Facebook. The same happened to the group that promoted Lars and put the Mohammad Cartoons on Facebook (that was the reason to censor Facebook in Pakistan by their government). Don't forget that the group is needed to be reported to Facebook by clicking the report button on the group page.
11:54 June 8, 2010 by maakm
I don't understand why media always relate this with freedom of speech. Why dont every one understand that it is not about your freedom of speech it is bout disgracing a person (who is dearest than their own lives), and hurting a group of people. It is the same as nobody is allowed to talk about other incidents that happened at the time of Hitler(I don't even like to mention it). Because it hurts a group which is even smaller than the Muslims in the world. Then why they are continuously doing this. It looks like media dont want this topic to die.

I am 200% sure if it was not related to Islam this idea would not last more than a day or two.
12:10 June 8, 2010 by Michael84
This guy is wow!
12:15 June 8, 2010 by bolababu
...cheap publicity for this "previously little known" artist as the article puts it. I respect his call for free-speech but the manner with which he goes about it is really not completely fair. Anyways, we all know that Swedes would do almost anything to get some kind of attention when they feel looked-over.
12:26 June 8, 2010 by flintis
@ saar,

maybe I'll become famous & earn lots of money because of it!!
12:49 June 8, 2010 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Earlier on I mentioned Ibn al-Arabi, the subject of Thörbjorn Säfve's “ Var Inte Rädd” - an Islamic figure that is still controversial in certain circles:


In 21st century Sweden, Vilks wants to prove a point. It's bad taste. Poor taste. Of course if there were no Muslims present here, we are to suppose that the outrage would begin from abroad.

It's not merely a matter of tolerance it's more a matter of respect for the sensitivity of other people. It's certainly not that such respect holds ART – even caricature art to ransom or chains legitimate self expression. Of course at best/ worse such mediocrity could have been ignored, and in so doing Vilks' portrait would have died a natural death of extinction, in oblivion.

He knows all about Salman Rushdie, he knows all about Jyllands-Posten and the cartoons controversy which started in Denmark.

So, apart from going out of his way to provoke Muslims and other decent people, what else is Vilk's purpose?

Even at Hyde Park there is not unlimited Freedom of Speech or Artistic expression - and should Vilks doubt that, he should try saying some unsavoury things there, not about the prophet of Islam, salallahu alaihi wa salaam, but about Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II – and see what happens to him. Not that he should regard this as an incitement for him to do that and have his sorry ass dragged all the way to cool down as a guest of one of Her Majesty's prison houses.

It's all a matter of common decency and respect – we are all capable or drawing iconoclastic visions of notable people in uncompromising positions and so on and so forth and saying all manner of silly things, but not to prove any inviolability of Art or for cheap fame, which in the final analysis is not so cheap when they put a price on his head.

If Vilks wants to augment his income he could freelance for Private Eye Magazine

There are a number of Sweden's public intellectuals ( I can name quite a few) who embrace Islam as their faith – and that faith should be respected – not just for doing business with the Muslim world or for soliciting more funds from Arabs who have invested heavily in Sweden - and of course in Britain.

That some of the outraged Muslims have not come out to reprimand - or to take up any other position in this matter does not mean to say that they nod with benign approval on Vilks' obvious provocations or that “ silence means consent.”

Nor is it only a matter of ignorance, but if it is, here is something to consider, something about more general matters, g that will help dispel some of that ignorance, from someone, a respected and respectful Muslim who I respect and who lives in our midst:

13:12 June 8, 2010 by logi
i still dont understand why people are after his life, for his artistic work worst things has been said about jesus and that will not make anyone want to kill for that, or did the koran not preach forgiveness?so his ignorance should be permitted.
14:12 June 8, 2010 by maakm

Lets talk about forgiveness. You will not find an example of forgiveness in history and in future what had happened when Prophet Muhammad won the war and occupy the territory of Makkah. So lets just talk about why this war happened.

There was an agreement between Makkah and Prophet Muhammad that nobody will attack on each other. Prophet Muhammad wants to visit Makkah for an important pilgrim.He sent one of his ambassador to ask the permission to the king of makkah. But instead of giving him permission he killed the ambassador (So how do you feel if one Muslim country kill the ambassador of sweden consider that there was no UN at that time). It was like that before the agreement they used to kill Muslims in their territory.

So a war has began. Muslims won the war and all the people were so scared that now Muslims will not leave any one of us (Now you must be thinking that Muslims killed every one like Hitler did, America and Israel even doing this now-a-days in the presence of UN. You can imagine what had happened in world war 2 and world war 1)

But Prophet announced and ordered to His companions that your not allowed to kill old people, women,children and even those men who do not fight with you, They were not even allowed to kill animals(You can see on youtube how American troops treated animals in Afghanistan and Palestine). Not a single innocent life was shattered in that war.

I challenge everyone who can bring this kind of example of forgiveness from history.
14:32 June 8, 2010 by Georguis
@ Maakm

looks like you didn't read enough about the terroristic history of Mohamed and Islam.

Have a look on this:

15:01 June 8, 2010 by xenyasai
@richardbw: He is not in the UK.
16:32 June 8, 2010 by bugz
I wonder why !?

When some1 attacks Black,or any other ethnicity, u call it racism

When some1 attacks Jewish people, u call it anti-semitic.

When some1 attacks women, u call it sexism.

When some1 attacks homosexuality, u call it intolerance.

When some1 attacks ur Country, u call it treason.

When some1 attacks a religious sect...u call it hate.

But ...

when some1 attacks the Prophet Mohammed u call it...FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!
17:55 June 8, 2010 by Davey-jo
@ bugz The "Prophet Mohammed" is no prophet, wrote down nothing, added nothing to the sum of human happiness. That's freedom of speech, try it in Saudi or any of the other towel headed countries.
18:26 June 8, 2010 by Iraniboy
What is next?

Vilks bought a new pant yesterday!! :D
20:35 June 8, 2010 by seagull
@bugz. He didn't attack muhammed. He didn't attack muslims. He simply made a (rather bad) cartoon parody. He would have rightly been vilified if he had come out in some unwarranted attack on muslims as a whole. It is a free country, and what he stands for is incredibly important. It isn't about fame and recognition..his life has already been threatened, it is about not pandering to the whims of religious pressure groups.

The silliest thing of all with all these cartoons, and the increasing number of people doing exactly the same thing, is that without the violence we have seen in the wake of the Danish cartoons, and Vilks own cartoons is that it would never have happened. Every piece of violence spurs on someone else to create the same. The actions of the extremists is not stopping it, but creating more of the same.
21:52 June 8, 2010 by richardbw

Just thought I'd mention it. There are many people who are ignorant of cultural symbols and this website is dominated by anglophones (all be it of great variation.) so some might find Vilks' inadvertent (presumed) rude hand gesture quite funny.

As for 'He is not in the UK.' I guess you know that I know he is not in the UK, so I presume that you are just being a bit pedantic (but I forgive you as this is a rather serious thread causing great anguish to those of little perspective or humour.)
23:30 June 8, 2010 by Authentica
This guy is a lunatic. Just take a look at his eyes on this photo.
23:57 June 8, 2010 by coot
The issue is not about respect. It is about how you are allowed to respond when someone does not give you the respect that you want.

I am an atheist. Every time I somebody tells me that I will go to hell because I don't believe in god, I am insulted. Do you believers have no respect for me?

Both the Muslims and I have been insulted by words of somebody else. Should a Muslims kill Vilks? Should I kill you? We have both suffered the same lack of respect.
23:59 June 8, 2010 by bugz
@Davey-jo #25

Look who's talkin!!! someone who added smth to humanity !!

ok..u wanna a freedom of speech statement... 'ur mind is full of crap' !!


yeah.. u r right..he attacked muslims!!! but again why should some1 feel free attackin muslims' great symbol while the same person might feel ashamed attackin jewish or any from the list above?!!

please explain!!
00:42 June 9, 2010 by GLO
Hey ! Freedom of speech is absolute. What people say speaks for itself. A kind heart speaks kindness a black heart speaks evil. Pretty simple !!!!
01:35 June 9, 2010 by kzjh72
@maakm: "I am 200% sure if it was not related to Islam this idea would not last more than a day or two."

I'm not sure if I understand what you are trying to say. Are you saying that if there ever would be a bad taste joke or an insulting cartoon or insulting "art" work which included Jesus Christ, then the debate if this is acceptable as "Free Speech" or not only would last a day or two?

If so I agree with you. Insulting jokes and drawings of Jesus Christ are frequent but they rarely initiate any debates in regards to "Free Speech". Why is this?

My suggestion is that it is because most Christians have learnt to accept this for what it is: Sad people using the "Freedom of Speech" for insulting purposes. That's it. No rallies, no hate mails, no threats of killing, and the debate die out. Most often before it has even started.
07:31 June 9, 2010 by xenyasai

I understand where you are coming from and i truly agree that it is always important to respect other cultures, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Yes, this is a news site written in English, but the news are from Sweden.

Also keep in mind that the reversed V sign is mostly known and used by Britons and Aussies.

I read the news at bbc.co.uk, but I would never expect them to write news so it would not offend me, because I am well aware of the possible difference in culture and local colloquialism.

Oh, and I am sorry for not laughing at your joke. It is obvious you took it so personal that you had to start a discussion regarding semantics and going so far as calling my humorless (ad hominem always strengthens your argument).

Seriously, is it really that difficult to handle criticism and accepting people that has a different opinion than you?
08:16 June 9, 2010 by richardbw

Ok, ok, I was going off topic and may be I took undue offense to your joke, I'll try and add a dash of humour to my breakfast this morning :-) (I'll try both varieties; humour and humor)...
09:18 June 9, 2010 by uunbeliever
C'mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now.

@asian123 - religion doesn't kill people, people do.
11:17 June 9, 2010 by John D.
I met the Prophet Muhammad yesterday. We had a discussion over a couple of beers at the local pub. He said he is not sure why people are so upset about this cartoon. He is not at all upset about it.

And then he flew back to heaven on a flying horse.

So everyone can relax now. Its all good!
16:15 July 16, 2010 by vb74
I do not understand why the Swedish goverment keeps letting people into your

country who obviously do not want to integrate but take over.Rapes, robbery and

loss of freedom of expression.I guess Sweden isn't what it used to be ,no more vikings in Sweden.
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