Iraqi group offers blood money for artist

Sept. 15, 2007 at 7:07 PM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- An Internet audio message said to be from al-Qaida in Iraq offered a $100,000 reward for killing a Swedish artist who caricatured the Prophet Mohammed.

The speaker, who said he was Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the terrorist group, promised to increase the reward to $150,000 if Lars Vilks is “slaughtered like a lamb,” the BBC reported.

Vilks created a picture that showed Mohammed’s head on a dog’s body. He had been unable to find a gallery willing to show it but the caricature began attracting attention when a regional newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, ran it.

Many strict Muslims believe that pictures of Mohammed are blasphemous, even when favorable. Some Muslims believe that dogs are especially impure.

The publication in a Danish newspaper last year of cartoons showing Mohammed was followed by demonstrations in many countries and boycotts of Danish companies.

The novelist Salman Rushdie had to live under guard for several years after Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran, called for his death because of his 1988 book, "The Satanic Verses," which was regarded by some Muslims as blasphemous.

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