A protest against the drawing in Pakistan

Swedish Artist on Islamist "Hit-list"

An Iraq-based Islamic group which is said to have connections to Al Qaida, has encouraged followers to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilks on its website.

A recording on the website offers 100,000 US dollars to the person who kills Lars Vilks. In the same recording, the Editor-in-Chief of the regional newspaper ”Nerikes Allehanda”, Ulf Johansson, who published the drawings, is also similarly threatened.

The website also calls on the Swedish goverment to make an official applogy to Muslims around the world - threatening repraisals against international Swedish companies such as Volvo, IKEA and Ericsson.

The threat follows the artist’s controversial drawings of Mohammed as a dog-like sculpture decorating a traffic roundabout - or traffic circle. The figurines are a popular artistic ”phenomena” and have been appearing on Sweden’s traffic roundbouts over the last year.

Speaking to reporters Lars Vilks says that although he is taking that threat seriously, he feels he is being used as a ploy for the publishers of the Islamic website to gain notoriety. He has called on the Swedish government to condemn the threats.

Ulf Johansson has commented to reporters that while he does not regret the publication of the drawings, he is taking the threat seriously.

The security arm of the Swedish Police, SÄPO, held an emergency meeting on Saturday to discuss the developments.

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