Sunday, 16 September 2007
The latest from The Local, Swedish news in the English language.
Lars Vilks is to receive police protection and other outlets of the Swedish media speak in his support.
After a short spell abroad, Vilks is set to land at Arlanda airport in Stockholm on Sunday afternoon. Speaking to news agency TT from Germany, the artist said that he had been in discussions with the police.
"An agreement is to be reached regarding what sort of protection I'll get from the police. I'm going to have some sort of personal protection, so they're going to discuss that with me and then decide how to proceed," said Vilks.
The artists expects to return to his home in southern Sweden on Monday.
"I live in the countryside, quite isolated. I suppose you could say I was an easy target if it came to it," he said . . . he was ready to die after extremists in Iraq offered $150,000 to anyone who slit his throat or $100,000 for his murder by other means.
Despite the risks, he insisted that he had few qualm about returning home.
"No, no, I'm not paranoid. I think I possess a healthy rationality; I know that there are some risks involved but one shouldn't exaggerate them either," he said.
"We must not give in," he was quoted as saying in the Dagens Nyheter daily which republished the cartoon in small format on Sunday. I'm starting to grow old. I could die at any time - it's not a catastrophe," he said
Vilks admitted he was surprised that the government had not yet commented on the matter. "I can understand that they must be squirming, but they should come out and condemn this. It's had to believe that they haven't done so," he said.
Swedish media condemned the threats, issued through the internet on Saturday in the form of a statement in the name of the group's purported leader, Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
"We live in a country where freedom of expression is not dictated by fundamentalists, nor by governments," wrote Dagens Nyheter chief editor Thorbjörn Larsson in an editorial. "Dagens Nyheter has already published the cartoon. To me, publishing it was the obvious thing to do."
But the Svenska Dagbladet daily urged Swedes to defend their right to free speech in the face of threats from religious fanatics.
"The Swedish media must wake up to (defend) freedom of expression," it said. "Freedom of expression is not a privilege for the media companies and journalists but a guarantee that citizens can have different impressions, numerous sources of information and inspiration as well as the possibility to draw their own conclusions."
Posted on 09/16/2007 10:06 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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