Car crash kills Swedish Mohammad cartoon artist

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who stirred worldwide controversy with drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammad with the body of a dog, was killed in a car crash on Sunday (October 3), police said.

Vilks, who had been living under police protection since the drawings were published in 2007, was traveling in a police vehicle which collided with a truck near the southern town of Markaryd. Two officers were also killed.

Police called it a "tragic accident" on Monday (October 4), and said there was no indication anyone else was involved.

Vilks's cartoons came out a year after a Danish newspaper published caricatures of Mohammad that sparked protests around the world.

He received death threats and had a bounty put on his head. His house was fire-bombed.

In 2015, one person was killed in Copenhagen, at a meeting meant to mark the 25th anniversary of an Iranian fatwa against British writer Salman Rushdie, which Vilks attended. Vilks was widely seen as the intended target.

The artist said the cartoons weren't meant to provoke Muslims, but to challenge political correctness in the art world.

Bjorn Wiman, arts editor of Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, says threats against Vilks were an attack on free speech.

"I think that instead of understanding that the threats against Lars Vilks were threats against us all and against a free society, many instead reacted by distancing themselves from Lars Vilks and said what he did was 'unnecessary'; 'why did he have to make that drawing, why does he have to do that?' And the answer to that is that there are no musts for the artist, the only thing they have to do is to follow their intuition and their creativity."

Most Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam offensive.

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