Hiding still 'indefinite' for Swedish artist Vilks

Maddy Savage
Maddy Savage - [email protected]
Hiding still 'indefinite' for Swedish artist Vilks
Lars Vilks pictured in Karlstad earlier this month. Photo: TT

Swedish artist Lars Vilks who is believed to be the intended target of one of the Copenhagen shootings, says police have told him he can never return to his home in southern Sweden, as he prepares to hold a debate in a secret location on Wednesday night.


Lars Vilks, who has been in hiding since the attacks in Denmark, says he has been moved between three different locations and was told by police this week that he could not go back to his house in Höganäs in Skåne, southern Sweden.
After being briefly allowed to collect some belongings several weeks ago, police supervised as a removal company packed up the rest of his possessions on Tuesday afternoon.
"Police did not want me to be there, they watched as everything I had there was moved. I had to make some quick decisions about the stuff I wanted to keep," he told The Local on Wednesday.
"I am still living in hiding. No one really knows what they [the police] are planning and discussing. They haven't found a solution. They want to put me in a place where it is safe to keep me for a long time. My last house was very close to the road and you could reach it too quickly or get away. You would have needed a whole army there," he added.
The 68-year-old cartoonist, who whipped up an outcry across the Muslim world with his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, was already living under police protection before the shootings in Copenhagen in February. Vilks was among those attending the event at a cultural centre that was attacked.
He returned to the city earlier this month to receive a prize awarded by a Danish association for promoting free speech, but has otherwise rarely been seen in public and several talks and discussions he was due to attend have been cancelled.
"In the end we decided that the best thing was to hold a secret debate that will be shown later online," he told The Local as he prepared to board a plane in Malmö on Wednesday afternoon.
He would only confirm that the location was "within Sweden" and that the debate would be broadcast by the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet some time after 6pm.
Asked about whether he felt his own rights were being restricted as he sought to promote freedom of expression, he said: "I am getting used to it because the most important thing for me is that I have the possibility to do my work and I do have a mini studio [where I am living] where I can do paintings and drawings."
He said he was disappointed that "no one dares" to exhibit his current sketches and paintings, but pleased that he could make them available online.
Five men have now been arrested in connection with the twin Copenhagen shootings at a cultural centre and Jewish building that left two people dead.


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