Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who became a figure of hate in 2007 after he drew a picture of the Islamic prophet Mohammed with a dog’s body, was killed recently.
According to PJ Media, Vilks died on Sunday afternoon in what at first glance appears to have been a car “accident.” However, the circumstances have some wondering if there is more to the story.
PJ Media cited a Daily Mail report as explaining that Vilks was in a police vehicle along with two officers who had been assigned to protect him.
The car was said to have been speeding at the time of the collision. Rescue workers say that it drove through a wire fence and into oncoming traffic where it became wedged under a truck, causing both vehicles to catch fire.
While the truck’s driver lived, despite sustaining serious injuries, neither Vilks nor the two police officers accompanying him survived the crash.
Rickard Lundqvist, a Swedish police spokesperson, said he would neither confirm nor deny whether foul play is considered a possibility, stating, “I cannot say at the moment if there are any criminal suspicions.”
Vilks experienced no shortage of threats since having first drawn his cartoon of Mohammed nearly 15 years ago, and some of those threats were acted upon.
History of threats
PJ Media noted that Vilks was head-butted by a man in 2010 as he attempted to give a lecture on freedom of speech. A more serious incident occurred in 2015 when a gunman opened fire at one of Vilks’ events.
According to NBC News, one person died and three law enforcement officers were wounded in the shooting, with authorities describing it as a terrorist attack.
Vilks spoke with a Danish journalist in 2012 about his decision to depict Mohammed, saying that he had “no regrets,” despite the ensuing backlash.
“One shouldn’t think like that. As an artist one must accept the consequences of one’s actions. History is full of artists whose fate was far worse than mine,” Vilks said at the time.
“I won’t say that I’m proud,” Vilks said of his work, but he did call it “interesting,” adding, “Through my art I have always worked for greater freedom — including freedom of expression — so I am very pleased.”