Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist who became controversial in 2007 for drawing the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body, died in a car accident on Sunday, October 3, 2021. According to investigators, the collision also killed two police officers who were escorting Vilks. The accident happened in the municipality of Markaryd, Kronoberg County, in southern Sweden.
The 75-year old controversial artist has been living under police protection since his cartoons were made public in 2007. His cartoons vexed the Muslim world. This led Fredrik Reinfeldt, the prime minister at that time, to meet with representatives from 22 Muslim countries. Not long after the meeting, a $100 thousand bounty was put up by Al-Qaeda for his death.
Known for his driftwood sculptures installed without permission in the Swedish nature reserve, Vilks was considered a contrarian artist. Vilks claimed that his portrayal of Muhammad is a statement against political correctness in the art world and was intended for an exhibition in Tallerud. Talking to Esquire magazine in 2015, Vilks explained that his depiction of Muhammad with a dog’s body is a “roundabout dog, a positive dog.” “In Sweden, we love dogs, so when you have a dog exhibit, everything is very nice,” Vilks said.
There have been multiple attempts at Vilks’ life. In 2010, two men allegedly tried burning his house down. A Pennsylvania woman who calls herself “Jihad Jane” pleaded guilty to plotting to kill Vilks.
Police investigations revealed that the police vehicle Vilks was in had puncture-proof tires and collided with a truck. Remains of exploded tires were found at the scene of the collision. Stefan Sinteus, head of the Swedish southern regional investigation unit, rules out any possibility of an “external act targeting the car.” “There is nothing to indicate that, but we want to be certain so we can rule it out,” Sinteus said.
One witness, talking to a local news outlet Aftonbladet said that the car Vilks was on “seemed to lose control,” causing it to crash head-on with a truck at high speed.