Muhammad Cartoonist on Terrorists’ Hit List Talks at a Free Speech Event Today
He was supposed to enter a discussion forum last week at the Annex of the Parliament, the usual forum for events like this.
The request was denied by the secretary general of the parliament because the police estimated it too risky.
But now Lars Vilks, 68, the Swedish caricaturist who has received more death threats than can be counted by fingers and toes, and who is on the militant Islamist organisation al-Qaeda’s hit list and has been under police protection since 2007, will in spite of the threat arrive in Finland on Tuesday in the name of free speech.
Since 2007, Vilks has been a wanted man for the extremists because the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published one of his caricatures displaying Prophet Muhammad as a dog.
Vilks has faced several serious incidents. In 2010, the Irish police arrested seven suspects over an alleged plot to kill him. During the same year, two brothers tried to burn his house down in southern Sweden and during the same year an American woman was senteced in prison for 10 years for plotting to kill Vilks. Also, in 2010, he was attacked during a public lecture at the Uppsala University in Sweden after showing images of gay men and the prophet along them. A man run from the front row and head-butted Vilks in the face, breaking Vilks’ glasses. After the attack, the crowd went wild. The Swedish police resorted to pepper spray and baton and one police withdrew a gun.
But the most serious incident to date happened in mid-February 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark about a month after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
Outside a cafeteria of a free speech event where Vilks was speaking, a gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon, spraying at least 30 rounds in the windows and door but the police stopped him from entering.
A 55-year-old man attending the event was killed and three police officers were wounded at the attack, which was condemned as an act of terror.
But the gunman escaped.
Vilks arrives in Finland by the invitation of Mika Raatikainen, MP from the Finns party.
“It’s pathetic that up to the prime minister of Finland, we participate in free speech marches in as far as Paris but in our homeland we hide our heads in the bushes at the first chance of where the freedom of speech could really be advanced and defended,” Raatikainen said in a bulletin.
Lars Vilks will speak at a discussion forum ‘The Price for Freedom of Speech in Multiculturalism’ at Kaivohuone (Iso Puistotie 1, Helsinki) starting from 15:00. The event is open to public. The arrangers request that the public should arrive on time. The security check will start at 14:00. No bags, including handbags are allowed. A maximum amount of 120 people are allowed in. The cloak fee is three euros.