Audience members throw eggs at Lars Vilks

Feb. 22, 2012 at 2:41 PM

KARLSTAD, Sweden, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Angry audience members threw eggs at controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks as he spoke about his Mohammad cartoons and freedom of speech.

Police spokesman Tommy Lindh told the news agency TT 15 people who threw eggs and two people who shouted back at them were removed during Vilks's lecture Tuesday evening at the University of Karlstad. None of the eggs hit Vilks and no one was arrested.

The disruption lasted about a minute, Lindh said.

Vilks had been invited to give the lecture by the university's Association of International Affairs, The Local reported.

The local Islamic Culture Association and Karlstad Young Muslims had called for a boycott of the lecture, saying in a statement Vilks "abuses the freedom of speech that we all enjoy and uses it in such a way as to create tensions in society."

In response to audience questions, Vilks said: "Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run. I don't think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough."

Mazlom Dogan of the university's Association for Student Affairs said in a statement: "It is important that we are able to discuss questions about freedom of speech and democracy at the university. We regret that this occurred but we are happy that we could carry on."

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