Hyderabad: Swedish artist Lars Vilks, notorious for sketching the head of Prophet Muhammad atop a dog’s body, died in a traffic accident.
Vilks was reported to be travelling in a civilian police vehicle which collided with a truck near the town of Markaryd in southern Sweden. Two police officers travelling with him were also killed, reported the BBC.
The 75-year-old artist had been living under police protection after being subjected to death threats over the cartoon. The cartoon, published in 2007, offended Muslims across the world who regard visual representation of the Prophet Muhammed as blasphemous. It came a year after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet as well.
The police have remarked that while the basis for the accident remains unknown, as things stand there is nothing to suggest foul play. “This is being investigated like any other road accident. Because two policemen were involved, an investigation has been assigned to a special section of the prosecutor’s office,” a police spokesperson told news agency AFP, adding that there was no suspicion of foul play.
The police car Vilks was in was travelling at high speed, according to local media reports. A large fire broke out after the accident and a number of emergency vehicles attended at the scene.
Vilks gained notoriety around the world after his 2007 cartoon caused outrage, leading then Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to meet ambassadors from 22 Muslim countries in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Even the terrorist entity Al-Qaeda in Iraq offered a $100,000 reward for his murder. In 2015, Vilks attended a debate on free speech that was targeted in a gun attack in Copenhagen. He said he was probably the target of the attack, which killed a film director.
Aside from his illustration of the Prophet, Vilks was an artist and activist who worked on installations and other paintings.