LONDON (RNS) Police in Ireland say they have arrested seven suspects in an alleged plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist for depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.
Drawings by Lars Vilks triggered widespread anger by Muslims when they appeared in a regional newspaper three years ago. Three Swedish newspapers reprinted the cartoons Wednesday (March 10) after the new threats became public.
Ireland’s RTE news network on Wednesday (March 10) identified the seven — four men and three women — as immigrants from Morocco and Yemen who now hold citizenship in Ireland.
Police did not immediately name the seven but told journalists they were arrested and jailed in Ireland after an investigation uncovered a “conspiracy to murder an individual in another jurisdiction.”
U.S. officials say a Pennsylvania woman, Colleen R. LaRose, who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane,” has been charged with supporting terrorism for allegedly traveling to Sweden to try to kill Vilks.
When the Vilks cartoons appeared in 2007 in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, Muslims were outraged because Islam traditionally prohibits images of Muhammad, and they thought the idea of Muhammad with the body of a dog was blasphemous and derogatory.
At one point, a group linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization was reported to have posted a $100,000 bounty on Vilks’ head — plus a 50 percent bonus if Vilks was “slaughtered like a lamb” with his throat cut.
The British Broadcasting Corp. quoted the artist, who has been under police protection since the threats were made against him, as saying he was “not shaking with fear, exactly.”
Vilks added that “I have prepared in different ways, and I have an axe here in case someone should manage to get through the window.”
— Al Webb
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.