Sweden: Muhammad cartoonist Vilks dies in accident

Swedish artist Lars Vilks has died in a traffic accident along with two police officers. He first came into the public eye in the wake of the controversy over Muhammad cartoons, when he drew the Islamic prophet as a dog in 2007. Vilks was the target of several assassination attempts and lived under police protection. In Sweden's press, the debate about freedom of expression is revived in the obituaries.

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Dala-Demokraten (SE) /

Freedom of expression also has its limits

There can be no unbridled freedom of expression, columnist Robert Sundberg stresses in Dala Demokraten:

“I am not in favour of absolute freedom of expression of the kind some liberals demand. There are examples of this from other areas beyond Vilks: in security policy, for example, it can be detrimental to provoke a major power. So freedom of expression has its limits, as was shown in Sweden during the Second World War. Freedom of expression is tied to time, space and issues. It is unfortunate that Vilks died in a traffic accident with two other people. His artistic work will continue to leave its mark.”

Expressen (SE) /

Islamist threat lives on

Vilks' death does mean the problem is gone, Expressen reminds readers:

“With his art, Vilks not only exposed Swedish hypocrisy about its much-touted freedom of expression. For example, the difference compared to official France, which defends the right to blaspheme and draw caricatures, is huge. He also became a living example of how late - and naively - Sweden reacted to violent Islamism. While Vilks was being led from one hideout to another, Swedish municipalities continued to pay Islamist extremists to run schools. Lars Vilks is dead. But the threat from those who chased him out of his home and into hiding persists.”