Shooting at Free Speech event targets cartoonist who depicted Mohammed

Shooting at Free Speech event targets cartoonist who depicted Mohammed February 14, 2015

Terror in Copenhagen: Danish police have confirmed that one civilian has been shot dead and that three police officers have been injured in an attack on a freedom of speech event organized by supporters of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced numerous threats for drawing the Prophet Mohammed.

Police confirmed that a shooting had taken place at a cafe in the Osterbro section of Copenhagen, which is where the free speech event, “Arts, blasphemy and freedom of speech.” was taking place on Saturday.

Copenhagen-based journalist Peter Starup Kedorff told Al Jazeera that the gunmen have fled, and police are looking for two to three suspects.

However, at the time of this post, the exact number of shooters remains unclear.

The free speech discussion panel held in the Danish capital of Copenhagen was attended by the French ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray. About the attack, the ambassador said:

They fired on us from the outside.

It was the same intention as (the January 7 attack on) Charlie Hebdo except they didn’t manage to get in.

Intuitively I would say there were at least 50 gunshots, and the police here are saying 200.

Bullets went through the doors and everyone threw themselves to the floor.

We managed to flee the room, and now we’re staying inside because it’s still dangerous.

The attackers haven’t been caught and they could very well still be in the neighborhood.

Helle Merete Brix, one of the organisers of the event, said that Vilks was present at the event but not injured:

I saw a masked man running past. A couple of police officers were injured. I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks.

Niels Ivar Larsen, another organiser, told Danish television:

I heard someone firing with an automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. I felt surreal, like in a movie.

Vilks stirred controversy in 2007 with published drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. The images sparked threats from Islamist militant groups. He has since lived under heavy security.

In a 2007 CNN interview, Vilks said the drawing was a calculated move meant to elicit a reaction:

It should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way. If you insult one (religion), then you should insult the other ones.

Vilks has received numerous death threats and has lived under constant protection by the Swedish police for years. Two years ago, an American woman who called herself Jihad Jane was sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to kill him.

Attacks on artists who dare depict the Prophet Mohammed are nothing new. Last January Islamic terrorists stormed the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine known for lampooning radical Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, killing many in the name of Islam.

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