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 cafÃ©:
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 skÃ¤nda 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.
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 cafÃ© 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 cafÃ© -- 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...