Lars Vilks to fulfill Uppsala lecture

Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who courted controversy by depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, will repeat his lecture at Uppsala University, where he was attacked in May, the university confirmed on Monday.

Lars Vilks to fulfill Uppsala lecture
Central Council of Ex-Muslims Chairwoman Mina Ahadi and Lars Vilks in June

“Artist Lars Vilks has been invited to finish his lecture at Uppsala University. The date has now been set for October 7th,” the university, one of Sweden’s oldest, said in a statement.

Vilks was delivering a lecture on freedom of speech and art in front of some 250 students on May 11th when he was head-butted by a man as an angry group

of about 20 people offended by a film he was showing stormed up to attack him.

Police had evacuated the lecture hall but some demonstrators resisted, and officers used tear gas. Two people were arrested.

“That a university lecture is interrupted by violence is a serious thing, regardless of the opinion that provoked the reaction,” Folke Tersman, the head of the university’s philosophy department, said in Monday’s statement.

“It is incompatible with the basic values democracy is based on. It is to uphold these values that we are inviting him again,” he added.

Four days after he was attacked at Uppsala University, Vilks’ home in the south of Sweden was fire-bombed by two Swedish brothers of Kosovar origin.

They have been convicted and were given jail sentences of two and three years.

Vilks has faced numerous death threats and a suspected assassination plot since his drawing of the Muslim prophet with the body of a dog was first published by Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda in 2007.

It illustrated an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

The drawing by Vilks prompted protests by Muslims in the town of Örebro, west of Stockholm, where the newspaper is based.

Egypt, Iran and Pakistan also made formal complaints about the drawing.

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‘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.