Al Qaeda has a price on his head, but Lars Vilks isn’t taking it too seriously.
Our Danish correspondent CG sends along his translation of a brief article from Sveriges Television:
Vilks: Looks like a comedy
In a TV interview with Reuters the artist Lars Vilks states that the situation can be compared to a comedy and that the death threats against him are part of that piece of art.
“Now Al-Qaida is part of the art project. Earlier Iran’s president and the flag-burners from Pakistan were enrolled,” he says.
He says that the debate that has risen is very important for integration because it shows that religion and politics are two different things. During the interview he once again draws a roundabout dog with a man’s head, a beard and a headscarf.
He’s taking things seriously enough, however, to allow the Swedish police to protect him when he returns from abroad. That’s interesting, since he considers Sweden a foreign country, and inhabits his own personal sovereign nation, Ladonia.
Telecoms giant Ericsson has taken steps to reduce its visibility in the Middle East following Saturday’s threat by al-Qaeda in Iraq to target major Swedish companies if Sweden does not apologize for the publication in several newspapers of a caricature of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
In a statement calling for the liquidation of cartoonist Lars Vilks and newspaper editor Ulf Johansson, the groups purported leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi also specified a number of Swedish firms as potential targets.
“We know how to force you to apologize. If you do not, expect us to strike the businesses of your major firms like Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, IKEA and Electrolux.”
With thousands of employees in the Middle East, Ericsson said it was taking the threat very seriously.
Managers have reminded staff to bear in mind security precautions advising company representatives to keep a low profile, conceal the company trademark and take extra care when deciding where to park, said spokeswoman Åse Lindskog.
“And today we have taken further action by removing all our flags to further reduce our visible profile. We are doing this in several countries in the Middle East,” she said.
Visibility aside, however, Ericsson has no plans to stop doing business in the region.
“We are not a consumer goods company that has to preserve a distinctive image,” said Lindskog.
And how about Sweden? Does it have to preserve a distinctive image? Perhaps the image of a proud Scandinavian country with a heritage of Viking courage and ferocity, displaying its flag fearlessly? Or maybe that of a cringing lickspittle PC Socialist paradise, ready to prostrate itself before a bunch of snarling thugs?
We shall see.
Meanwhile, I’ll give Lars Vilks the last word.
Lars Vilks admitted he was surprised that the government had not yet commented on the matter.
“I can understand that they must be squirming, but they should come out and condemn this. It’s hard to believe that they haven’t done so,” he said.
For previous posts on Lars Vilks and the Roundabout Dogs, see the Modoggie Archives.