Artist who drew Prophet Mohammed cartoon ‘killed in crash’

The Swedish artist who was forced to live under police protection since 2007 after his sketch of the Prophet Mohammed with a dog’s body brought death threats has died in a road crash, according to reports on Monday morning (October 4). Lars Vilks, who was largely unknown outside Sweden before the infamous drawing, was reportedly killed when a truck collided with a civilian police car in which he and his protection were travelling, news media said. Swedish news agency TT said police had confirmed the 75-year old was traveling in the car with two police officers, and the newspaper Dagens Nyheter said the artist’s partner has confirmed his death.

The cause of the collision is under investigation. Vilks’ life changed dramatically 13 years ago following his well publicised sketch of Mohammed with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Al Qaida put a bounty on his head as a result, and in 2010 two men tried to burn down his house in the south of the country. Last year, meanwhile, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to a plot to try and kill him. The artist was largely unknown outside his native land until then.

At home, he was best known for building a sculpture made of driftwood in a nature reserve in southern Sweden without permission, which resulted in a lengthy legal battle.

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