Arsonists target Mohammed cartoonist Lars Vilks

THE house of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who sparked controversy by drawing the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog, was targeted in an arson attack.

“The damage is rather minor. Part of the front is blackened and some windows were broken,” police spokeswoman Sofie Oesterheim said.  “The fire went out by itself.”  Police found glass bottles containing gasoline inside the house, which was empty at the time of the attack.  The arson attack came just days after Vilks was beaten while giving a lecture at Sweden’s Uppsala University.

In 2007, Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda published Vilks’ satirical cartoon to illustrate an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

The cartoon prompted protests by Muslims in the town of Oerebro, west of Stockholm, where the newspaper is based. Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made formal complaints. An al-Qaeda front organisation then offered a bounty to anyone who murdered Vilks and Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson.

Four men and three women, all Muslims originally from Morocco and Yemen, were arrested in southern Ireland in March over an alleged plot to assassinate the artist.

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