Swedish artist Lars Vilks killed in suspicious car accident

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Swedish artist Lars Vilks killed in suspicious car accident

A Swedish artist who survived a series of assassination attempts for drawing of the Prophet Muhammad as a dog has died in a mysterious high-speed crash.

Lars Vilks, 75, had been living under round-the-clock police protection since the 2007 drawing of the Muslim founder fueled death threats and direct attempts on his life.

He died Sunday when the police car he was traveling crashed head-on with a truck on a highway near Markaryd, Swedish officials said.

The car — driven by one of his bodyguards — veered across a guardrail and onto the wrong way of the highway, bursting into flames, as did the truck it smashed headfirst into, officials said.

Vilks and his two plainclothes officers all died at the scene. The 45-year-old truck driver was flown to a hospital with serious injuries, authorities said.

Swedish artist Lars Vilks was killed in a mysterious traffic accident on Oct. 3, 2021.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks was killed in a mysterious traffic accident on Oct. 3, 2021.
AP Photo/David Keyton

Chief Prosecutor Kajsa Sundgren said she had taken over a preliminary investigation into whether “any police officer may have committed a crime in connection with the accident.”

However, Carina Persson, the police chief for southern Sweden, insisted that “there is nothing for now that indicates that it was something else but a traffic accident.”

“We are looking into the possibility that there could have been some kind of tire explosion,” senior police officer Stefan Siteus said — even though the car had puncture-proof tires.

Lars Vilks had been living under police protection since 2007 when a sketch he did caused him to receive death threats.
Lars Vilks had been living under police protection since 2007 when a sketch he did caused him to receive death threats.
Stefan Lindblom/Stella Pictures/Abaca/Sipa USA

Still, there would be a full investigation to “completely exclude an external act targeting the car in which Lars Vilks found himself,” Sinteus said at a press conference.

“There is nothing to indicate that, but we want to be certain so we can rule it out,” he added.

Vilks had previously insisted that his Muhammad images were not intended to offend Muslims but to challenge political correctness in the art world.

According to police, the threats were coming from members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group who also put a bounty on his head.
According to police, the threats were coming from members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group who also put a bounty on his head.
FRANCOIS CAMPREDON/AFP via Getty Images

But al-Qaeda put a bounty on his head over the 2007 image showing the prophet as a dog, which are considered unclean by conservative Muslims. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden, leading to his full-time police protection.

In 2014, a woman from Pennsylvania who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane” was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting to kill him.

According to police, Lars Vilks was traveling in a civilian car with a police escort when the accident occurred.
According to police, Lars Vilks was traveling in a civilian car with a police escort when the accident occurred.
TT News Agency/Johan Nilsson/via REUTERS

The following year, a free-speech seminar that Vilks attended in Copenhagen, Denmark, was attacked by a lone gunman who killed a Danish film director and wounded three police officers.

Vilks was whisked away unharmed by bodyguards but conceded that he was likely the intended target at the event marking the 25th anniversary of the fatwa against British writer Salman Rushdie.

The gunman later killed a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue and wounded two more officers before he was killed in a firefight with police.

Forensic technicians work at the scene after a traffic accident between a car and a lorry killed three people including Lars Vilks.
Forensic technicians work at the scene after a traffic accident between a car and a lorry killed three people including Lars Vilks.
TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Ima

Several of his works, including the one depicting Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog, are currently on display in Warsaw, Poland. The works are being shown as part an exhibition curated by a right-wing director that aims to challenge left-wing political correctness.

However, Swedish police said they are not aware of any new concrete threats against him ahead of Sunday’s deadly crash.

With Post Wires

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