Lars Vilks Will Finish His Lecture Next Week

You may remember the name Lars Vilks — he’s the Swedish artist who was at the center of controversy in 2007 because he drew the Islamic prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body.

You can read more about those pictures here.

A few months ago, Vilks spoke at Uppsala University in Sweden and this is what went down:

His home was fire-bombed a few days after that.

After the attacks, Vilks was promised a chance to return to the school to finish his talk. I didn’t know if that offer would stand, but it looks like Vilks will be finishing his talk on October 7th.

“That a university lecture is interrupted by violence is a serious thing, regardless of the opinion that provoked the reaction,” Folke Tersman, the head of the university’s philosophy department, said in Monday’s statement.

“It is incompatible with the basic values democracy is based on. It is to uphold these values that we are inviting him again,” he added.

Now, that is courage.

I hope security is ramped up and Vilks remains safe. No one deserves the sort of treatment he’s received for unpopular opinions. Vilks has every right to criticize Islamic beliefs in any way he chooses. It’s the Muslim radicals who are taking things too far by responding with physical attacks.

(via MediaWatchWatch)

  • L.Long

    So I would think that all those ‘moderate’ islamics living in other countries are not as peaceful and moderate as they like to claim.

  • Hitch

    The university indeed should be the place were ideas can be heard. And if one disagrees on their merit, so be it. But silencing ideas before they are even presented, or understood… not good.

    Kudos to Uppsala University for understanding what inquiry and argumentation means.

    Incidentally Vilks got head-butted not for his own work but for showing art-work by an Iranian female artist articulating aspects of Homosexuality in Iran. Now here again one can agree or disagree, but many people, even skeptics find Vilks offensive and it seems to me also before having heard him out.

    I find this problematic. I’m fine with people disagreeing. I’m not fine if they disagree without knowing what is actually going on.

  • http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org Ophelia Benson

    Hooray. Good for Vilks.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    I’ll second Hitch’s remarks.

    And, of course, I’m sure there will be an honor guard of moderate Muslims—the Reza Aslans of the world, the whole “religion of peace” crowd—who will be there to escort Vilks and protect him from those naughty Muslims who are giving the religion a bad name. …Right?

  • Nick

    Somebody should create a website called religions behaving badly. It would just be an archive of stuff like this.

  • Anonymous

    I will never forget the terrified feeling I got in my tummy the first time I watched (the full-length version of) that video.

    And that intimidation is WORKING.

    US cartoon strip rejected for even mentioning Muhammad
    http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2010/09/us-cartoon-strip-rejected-for-even.html

  • K F

    Everyone seriously reading this site is committed to free speech, but when it comes to drawing Mohammed or burning the Koran, anyone should ask themselves “is it worth it?”. Of all the stupid and baseless beliefs of Islam, why do we have to fixate on the ones that have the potential to to create the most violence? I think we have plenty of other stupid stuff to run with.

    There’s got to be other ways of countering Islam that won’t make radicals turn violent. Plus, these actions aren’t going to make anyone question their faith, only provoke more hatred of the west. To appeal to people, you don’t start by crapping all over everything they take seriously. That’s not a good way to change things.

  • gsw

    I wonder, does Uppsala University practice ex-matriculation for students caught in acts of violence or destroying university property?
    Perhaps the threat would be sufficient.
    As for the non-students – why are they not arrested for “trespassing with intent to cause a riot?”

  • muggle

    They’d be idiots if they didn’t ramp up security so I’m sure they will be. I don’t know who Vilks is or what he stands for but more power to him and I know this — he’s got courage. Cudos to him and the University for such a display of strength, courage and the refusal to be intimidated into repressing his voice.

  • Staceyjw

    KF- While crapping on someones beliefs may not help, there is NO way to criticize Islam or muhammed without angering Muslims, often to violence. the best thing to do is NOT back down or try to be more sensitive, that backfires, and makes us look weak. the best thing is for more criticism, so much more that individuals cannot be targeted.

    I think it’s really important to support those that put their neck out there, literally! we need a non profit to help those who have had to go into hiding or hire security over religious, or other, zealots. I’m thinking of starting it myself, and putting it on Kickstarter.com. after all, we ALL benefit from free expression, we should be there for those who have been threatened and harmed by speaking out. If they have to stand alone, and bear the costs alone, who will be brave enough to do it? Once that happens, we might as well have no right to free expression, as it I’ll be meaningless in a world where people are afraid to use it.

  • Atom Jack

    Good luck with that, K F. What do you propose? The evidence to date shows that any perceived slight leads to violence from these people (the violent ones, of course, not the bullied ones who are afraid to stand up to the bullies). Intelligent rule of law is essentially nonexistent in the ME, and until there is an awakening, never will be.

  • David B. Crawford, MD

    I think it a great idea that we all plaster these Vilks Mohammed cartoons everywhere we can, because then it makes it very difficult to “target” anything. The same method of attack can be used can be used on on doctrinaires of any stripe.

  • bozca

    “I will cut, burn all of you. wait and see.” u can talk only like this. u destroy all over the worl for oil, make people of arab hungry. a criticise can be like this. drawing prophet of islam is a mockery not a criticise.


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