A Swedish artist who received death threats after painting a caricature of Islam’s prophet Mohammed as a dog has announced he will be presenting new paintings of the prophet at an exhibition later this year.
Lars Vilks, 66, will display his new work in Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, and noted for its 41% immigrant population, many of whom originate from the Middle East.
“It’s important to continue because if you yield to the threats and back away, you have abandoned the democratic principle,” said Vilks.
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the artist has faced a number of death threats and lives under constant risk after his depiction of the Muslim prophet with the body of a dog was published by Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in 2007.
Its publication was accompanied by an editorial lauding the importance of freedom of expression.
The new paintings will still feature Mohammed with a dog’s body, with a twist of being inserted into famous works by artists including Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Monet, and Anders Zorn, Vilks said.
Asked if he thought the July exhibition would result in more threats and protests, Vilks said it was “hard to tell,” then added, “at some point this has to be over and done with.”
The Guardian reports Malmo has been front and center in an ongoing Swedish debate on immigration, with protests following Islam-baiting, anti-immigrant movements in the country. The city’s Islamic Center estimates there are 100,000 people with “a Muslim background” in the area.
In 2009, Colleen LaRose, an American woman calling herself “Jihad Jane”, was arrested in the US with seven others — including Majed Moughni — for plotting to kill Vilks. LaRose pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in 2011 and now awaits sentencing.
Three other men who were accused of plotting to murder Vilks at an art fair were acquitted by a Swedish court in January, although they were fined for weapons possession, AFP adds.