Attack on Swedish cartoonist's house

Afp May 15, 2010

STOCKHOLM: The house of Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who drew a controversial caricature of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), was targeted in an arson attack overnight, police said Saturday.

"The damage is rather minor, part of the front is blackened and some windows were broken," Scanie district police spokeswoman Sofie Oesterheim told AFP. "The fire went out by itself."

Police found glass bottles containing petrol inside the house which was empty at the time of the attack, which came days after Vilks was beaten while giving a lecture at Uppsala University.

Vilks told AFP he did not want to overreact to the attack but would take some precautions.

"I'll have to have a hideaway for some time, which I think is reasonable... I can probably go in the house during daytime, but I'll have to sleep somewhere else.

"We have to see if it's possible to install an alarm or something.... I shouldn't be paranoid. This could be a one-time occasion," he added.

In 2007, Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda published Vilks' satirical cartoon to illustrate an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

The cartoon prompted protests by Muslims in the town of Oerebro, west of Stockholm, where the newspaper is based, while Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made formal complaints.

An Al-Qaeda front organisation then offered $100,000 to anyone who murdered Vilks, with an extra $50,000 if his throat was slit, and $50,000  for the death of Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson.

Four men and three women, all Muslims originally from Morocco and Yemen, were arrested in southern Ireland in March over an alleged plot to assassinate him.

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