SHARE
COPY LINK

ISLAM

Vilks cites KKK to defend talk to anti-Muslim group

Swedish artist Lars Vilks has defened his decision to speak at an anti-Islamic conference in New York on September 11th, claiming he would also accept an invitation from the Ku Klux Klan.

Vilks cites KKK to defend talk to anti-Muslim group

Vilks, the Swedish artist who enraged Muslim groups with his depictions of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, agreed earlier this month to speak at a conference organized by the anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of Nations (SION).

Last week, however, an art gallery in northern Sweden booted him from a planned group exhibition because of his decision to accept the SION invitation.

Several of the other participating artists pulled out in solidarity with Vilks, stirring up a debate in Sweden this week about artistic freedom and Islamophobia.

The art exhibition, which was due to open on September 30th, has since been cancelled.

In a lengthy interview published in the Aftonbladet newspaper on Thursday, Vilks defended his decision to speak at the SION event.

“If the Ku Klux Klan had invited me, I would have gone,” he told the paper.

In the lengthy Aftonbladet interview, Vilks said that SION is a “demagogic” organization that “cannot be disregarded”.

“They have a growing political influence. Their campaigns generate violent attention,” Vilks said.

SION, an international network of counter-jihadist groups, was formed in January 2012. The group’s inaugural summit, which Vilks is due to speak at, will take place in New York on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

SION’s president, the controversial author and blogger Pamela Geller, has warned of the “Muslim agenda to grind away at our liberties until America is under Sharia law”.

She once suggested that Malcolm X was President Obama’s father and called him a “jihad president”.

Vilks was invited to the SION summit to speak about the global storm caused by his 2007 drawings showing the head of the Prophet Muhammad on a dog’s body.

Speaking to Aftonbladet, he explained that he is participating in the conference as an artist and that his visit is part of an ongoing art project.

“I’m obviously going to say that I’m there as an artist. That it’s a part of my art project. ‘You are a work of art’,” he said.

Vilks has received a series of death threats and is currently under round-the-clock surveillance by the Swedish Security Service.

However, he explained that he does not see Muslims as a threat.

“Islam doesn’t stand a chance against modernization,” he said.

“I regard it as a temporary hysteria.”

Speaking about immigration in Sweden, Vilks said he thinks that it’s too large in relation to the resources”.

“I don’t have any opinion on how many people are let in, but they must be taken care of. People think I hate Muslims and immigrants, but I don’t have a problem with people from other countries,” he said.

Vilks also lamented official Sweden’s approach to multiculturalism as “unbearable”.

“You’re supposed to celebrate Midsummer, but then you can’t because you need to have other groups represented so that we don’t appear to be racists,” he said.

“But multiculturalism isn’t something that can be stopped. It comes with internationalization automatically,” he told Aftonbladet.

The Local/nr

Follow The Local on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LARS VILKS

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for Muhammad cartoon, killed in car accident

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as well as his huge wooden sculptures, died in a car accident on Sunday.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks gives a lecture
Swedish artist Lars Vilks, pictured here giving a lecture in 2015, died in a car collision on Sunday. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The 75-year-old has lived under police protection due to death threats over his 2007 Prophet Muhammad drawing. He and two police officers were killed in a collision with an oncoming truck, Swedish police confirmed to AFP, and the accident is currently not being treated as suspicious.

“This is being investigated like any other road accident. Because two policemen were involved, an investigation has been assigned to a special section of the prosecutor’s office,” a police spokesperson told AFP, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.

The accident occurred near the small town Markaryd when the car Vilks was travelling in crashed into an oncoming truck. Both vehicles caught fire and the truck driver was sent to hospital for treatment, according to police. In a statement, the police said the cause of the accident was unclear.

“The person we were protecting and two colleagues died in this inconceivable and terribly sad tragedy,” said regional police head Carina Persson.

Vilks had been under police protection since 2010, after his cartoon of Muhammad with a dog’s body published in Swedish newspapers three years earlier prompted outrage among those who consider depictions of the Muslim prophet deeply offensive or blasphemous. Al-Qaeda offered a $100,000 reward for Vilks’ murder.

The depiction also sparked diplomatic friction, with Sweden’s then prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt meeting ambassadors from several Muslim countries to ease tensions. In 2015, Vilks survived a gun attack at a free-speech conference in Copenhagen that left a Danish film director dead.

While the Muhammad drawing is what Vilks was best known for internationally, he was primarily a sculptor.

His most significant work is the driftwood sculpture Nimis, which he began building in a Skåne national park in 1980.

This work was also not without controversy; Vilks built it illegally without acquiring a permit, sparking a legal dispute with local authorities who demanded it be destroyed. The artist sold both Nimis and a second artwork, and although he was fined for building them, and Nimis was badly damaged in a 2016 fire, they remain largely standing today.

SHOW COMMENTS