MALMO, Sweden (AP) — Lars Vilks was used to tight security even before, with round-the-clock police protection at his home in southern Sweden. But after the deadly Feb. 14 attack against a free-speech seminar in Copenhagen, he lives under security measures that seem almost absurd in peaceful Sweden, with heavily armed bodyguards moving him from one secret location to another.
“It’s like starting a new life,” the 68-year-old Swedish artist told The Associated Press Wednesday in an interview arranged by his bodyguards at an abandoned farmhouse on the outskirts of the city of Malmo. “Everything has changed. I have to understand that I cannot go back home. I have to probably find some other place to live.”
Vilks’ life changed radically eight years ago after he drew a sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Al-Qaida put a bounty on his head. In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden. Last year, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.
Even then, it all seemed like a “comedy” to Vilks, because his would-be attackers seemed like “clumsy amateurs.”
“Now it’s come to a level where people are killed,” Vilks said. “Then you can’t fool around”…