Lars Vilks, an artist and free speech activist whose cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad on the physique of a canine in 2007 made him the goal of quite a few assassination makes an attempt, was killed in a automotive crash in Sweden on Sunday, the police stated.
Mr. Vilks, who had been below police safety since 2010, was headed towards his dwelling in southern Sweden when the civilian police car he was touring in veered throughout the median and collided head-on with a truck, killing Mr. Vilks, 75, and his two bodyguards, the police stated.
The truck driver was taken to a hospital with severe accidents.
“We’re trying on the chance that it was a tire explosion,” Stefan Sinteus, a regional police official, stated throughout a information convention on Monday. “There’s nothing at this level to point that this was an assassination.”
Mr. Sinteus stated the 2 law enforcement officials who had been killed within the crash had labored with Mr. Vilks for a number of years.
The accident occurred on Sunday afternoon alongside a four-lane freeway in Markaryd, an space about 300 miles southwest of Stockholm.
Many Muslims take into account depictions of Muhammad to be blasphemous, and cartoons such because the one by Mr. Vilks have prompted widespread backlash over time. In 2005, a newspaper in Denmark revealed a caricature of Muhammad carrying a bomb-shaped turban that touched off violent protests by Muslims.
In 2015, Islamic militants stormed the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had reprinted the cartoon, and killed 12 folks.
Mr. Vilks’s black-and-white drawing was revealed by a regional paper in Sweden in 2007 and was condemned by Muslims within the nation, in addition to by the Group of the Islamic Convention, an umbrella group of 57 Muslim-majority international locations.
Mr. Vilks subsequently obtained dying threats, and a group linked to Al Qaeda placed a $100,000 bounty on his head, forcing him to quickly transfer to a secret location.
Mr. Vilks was threatened repeatedly after the cartoon was revealed.
In 2010, he was assaulted whereas giving a lecture on free speech at Uppsala College in Sweden. That 12 months, two brothers had been additionally jailed after making an attempt to burn down his home. In a separate case, a suicide bomber despatched messages to a number of Swedish information organizations singling out Mr. Vilks before detonating two explosives in central Stockholm, killing himself.
In 2015, a gunman in Copenhagen attacked a cafe where Mr. Vilks was speaking at an occasion referred to as “Artwork, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression,” killing a filmmaker and wounding three law enforcement officials. One of many organizers of the occasion, Helle Merete Brix, stated she believed Mr. Vilks had been the meant goal, though he was unhurt within the taking pictures. The police later stated they’d shot and killed a person they believed was answerable for the assault on the cafe in addition to one other assault at a synagogue, the place one particular person was killed.
After the assaults, Mr. Vilks traveled with armed bodyguards, according to The Associated Press. “It’s like beginning a brand new life,” he stated. “The whole lot has modified. I’ve to know that I can’t return dwelling. I’ve to in all probability discover another place to reside.”
Regardless of offending Muslims and the threats towards his life, Mr. Vilks stated he had no regrets over the cartoon. “I’m truly not thinking about offending the prophet,” Mr. Vilks told The A.P. in 2010. “The purpose is definitely to indicate which you could. There’s nothing so holy you possibly can’t offend it.”