Al-Qaida threatens Swedish artist

Sept. 17, 2007 at 3:10 PM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Sweden is trying to prevent another cultural row between the Muslim world and the West after al-Qaida offered $100,000 for the murder of a Swedish artist who drew the Prophet Mohammad.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has called for calm after quick meetings with Muslim diplomats following the cartoon's Aug. 19 publication in a small newspaper in Orebro.

The cartoon -- depicting a dog with the head of the Prophet -- had caused for little uproar until Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a senior al-Qaida official in Iraq, over the weekend tagged the reward to the head of cartoonist Lars Vilks, and a $50,000 reward for the murder of Ulf Johansson, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

Swedish Muslim leaders have protested against the threats, but Swedish intelligence officials over the weekend said they would nevertheless take them very seriously.

The Scandinavian country hopes for less trouble than inflicted upon its southern neighbor Denmark: Last year, a series of Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet were reprinted all over the world and triggered violent protests that killed over 50 people. Also, it sparked a boycott of Danish products and attacks on Danish institutions in the Muslim world.

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