Swedish artist Lars Vilks is no stranger to controversy. In the past, he has angered Muslims by creating drawings and art that are highly critical of the Prophet Muhammad. On Tuesday, Vilks, 65, was speaking at Karlstad University in central Sweden when protesters (purportedly Muslims) began attacking the artist with eggs. Ironically, he was invited to the university to speak about free expression (he also presented yet another drawing of Muhammad).
According to Vilk's account, around a dozen people started yelling at him and throwing eggs while he was addressing the audience. Of course, this isn't the first time he's been targeted and it likely won't be the last -- something the well-known figure has accepted.
“They were just waiting for the right moment to go to attack,” he told the Associated Press. "I’ve experienced this so much now. It is what it is. You have to expect these things. I have good protection and it works the way it should."
Video footage of the incident shows Vilks running away with security guards covering him as the eggs were hurled in his direction. The disruption, while chaotic, lasted only about one minute and Vilks is said to have not been hit (though individuals assisting him were visibly pelted with the eggs):
"They were also shouting some slogans. We removed them as well as two people who had started shouting back at the 15 (egg throwers)", explained Tommy Lindh, a police spokesperson. "At the time it was a bit tumultuous but the commotion only lasted for about a minute."
The Local reports:
The local Islamic Culture Association (Islamiska kulturföreningen) and Karlstad Young Muslims (Unga muslimer i Karlstad) had called for a boycott of the lecture earlier in the day, writing in a statement that Vilks ”abuses the freedom of speech that we all enjoy and uses it in such a way as to create tension sin society.”
During the question and answer period, Vilks spoke of the importance of preventing censorship.
"Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run," he said. "I don't think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough."
Vilks has received death threats in the past from radical Islamists, particularly as a result of his depiction of Muhammad as a dog back in 2007. In 2010, two brothers were put in jail after trying to burn his home down and, in 2011, a Pennsylvania woman pleaded guilty of participating in a plot to kill the artist.
This isn't the first lecture during which he's had problems. In 2010, he was forced to cancel an event at another university after protesters stormed the stage and clashed with police officers. We'll leave you with video from the 2010 attack: