7 Sep 2007

Lars Vilks: Sluta skända vår profet

I had hoped to avoid blogging about this tiresome subject, but the protests against Swedish artist Lars Vilks' drawings of the prophet Muhammad as a dog just marched, literally, past my café:

Lars Vilks protest

The art project was originally conceived of by two Muslim cultural groups who have since stepped away from Vilks, ironically enough after Vilks published cartoons regarded as anti-Semitic (in the Jewish sense of the term) on his web page. Since then, the furor has grown, with pressure from Arab countries' ambassadors and death threats adding up to a seeming repeat of the 2005 Danish cartoon controversy. Recently an (unrelated) sculpture of a dog created by Vilks was set aflame in southern Sweden.

The protesters, seemingly a few hundred strong, were carrying signs and chanting "Sluta skända vår profet," which means 'stop desecrating our prophet.' It seemed to be mainly the Middle Eastern community, rather than a broad cross-section of Uppsala, that was marching.

Lars Vilks protest

This photo, taken a few seconds before the one above, is an interesting contrast because it shows the inside of the (very expensive) Fair Trade café I was sitting in, complete with posters of 3rd-world coffee farmers smiling happily at the Swedish consumers (and me) who are paying $4 for their lattes, under the apprehension that their consumer practices are making a dent in global economic injustice. I have no doubt that they are (especially at these prices.) While those setting inside the café -- mainly white Swedes with a smattering of globalized knowledge workers from other countries -- drink their cappuccinos, the other Uppsala marches outside, concerned about a perceived injustice much nearer to home than the coffee fields of South America or Africa.

Lars Vilks visited the University of Washington a few years ago, I'll see if I can dig up any photos of his appearance...

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