STOCKHOLM (AP) – The Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has lived under police protection since his sketch in 2007 of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body carried death threats, died in a traffic accident on Sunday, Swedish news media reported.
The accident must have meant that a truck collided with a civilian police car where Lars Vilks and his police protection were traveling, says the news media.
The Swedish news agency TT said that the police had confirmed that Vilks, 75, was traveling in the car with two police officers, and the newspaper Dagens Nyheter said that the artist’s partner confirmed his death.
The cause of the accident was under investigation.
Vilks was largely unknown outside Sweden before his Muhammad drawing. At home, he was best known for having built a sculpture of driftwood in a nature reserve in southern Sweden without a permit, which triggered a long legal battle. He was fined, but the sea sculpture – a tangle of wood that was nailed together in a chaotic way – attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year.
Whose life changed radically 13 years ago after he drew a sketch of Muhammad with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any portrayal of the Prophet, even favorable ones, for fear that it may lead to idolatry.
Al-Qaeda put a premium on Vilk’s head. In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden. Last year, a Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill him.