Muhammad cartoonist attacked at lecture.
Provocative visual aids during lecture evokes surge, attack, beatings by pro-Islamic spectators. The Vilks cartoons controversy came almost two years after the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons but are still, two years after they were first shown, explosive material to say the least.
For more background on the Swedish cartoon controversy, which started in 2007, two years after the Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons: http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/nordic/2244/
Videotape of late Tuesday's lecture at Uppsala University by Lars Vilks, the outspoken artist whose cartoon depictions of Muhammad as a canine have caused controversy and death threats, showed that he faced an audience whose mood reflected either outraged restraint or fearful apprehension.ADVERTISEMENT
Although reporters called the atmosphere "calm" to start in the jam-packed hall, in a few seconds, audience members rushed the stage, assaulted Vilks and continued to attack police and security personnel after the lecturer had been whisked away from the stage.
According to Vilks himself, his injuries were not serious. They came when a male spectator in the front row charged him and head-butted the speaker to the wall and floor. Losing his glasses, which lay afterward shattered near the podium, Vilks received bruises when the first attacked pinned him to the ground, but was quickly freed, protected and moved by police on the scene to a place of safety.
Besides the university's own TV recording, another video account of the incident showed that Vilks, shortly into his lecture, had showed graphics that depicted the heads of Muhammad and associated Muslim religious persons that were photographically transposed onto the muscular, naked bodies of homosexuals in a gay bar as they cavorted with one another. For many in the audience, this sparked an outrage and, as objects began flying, much of the public left their seats and pressed toward the stage.
Shouts and calls from the audience also were flung at Vilks, although an Arabic speaking Swedish consultant, upon reviewing the tapes, reported that the slogans were praise of Allah and did not, in themselves, urge the attackers to violence or threaten the lecturer.
Two twenty year old men were arrested, another held for creating a disturbance, and one officer suffered a beating as turmoil continued for some time on the premises and other audience members turned the upheaval into a mob-like attack that, lacking Vilks presence, turned its wrath onto police officers. Eventually, added law enforcement personnel succeeded in evacuating the location.
A previous lecture by Vilks on the same subject, which dealt with his own artwork and the substance of expression and freedom of speech, was canceled in Jönköping earlier. Reacting to the Tuesday violence, Liberal Party Parliamentary Member Cecliia Wikström from Uppsala, denounced the crowd's violence against Vilks as an attack on fundamental human rights, and an affront to all citizens.
Vilks currently is reported to have a bounty of $150,000 on his head - put up by an AL-Qaeda-affiliated organization - that offers the sum to his murderer. Other organizations also threatened Vilks after the Swedish newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda, published his Muhammad cartoons earlier this year. According to the FBI indictment, a disillusioned American woman, Colleen LaRose, was planning the assassination, and three others remain incarcerated in Ireland in relationship with the Vilks death decree from radical Islamics.