Swedish artist attacked at university lecture

The controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who’s been threatened and attacked several times since he drew “Muhammad as a Roundabout dog” a couple of years ago, was attacked during a lecture at Uppsala University Tuesday, May 11. Vilks had been invited to Uppsala University to talk about “Art and the freedom of speech.” About ten minutes in to his lecture he showed the video “Allah hu Gaybar” by Iranian artist Sooreh Hera.

In the video, naked men appear in Muhammad-masks. This was too much for a young man in the audience who rushed forth and reportedly gave Vilks a “headbutt” before he was overpowered by body guards and police. Some teens in the audience began fighting, while others were shouting “allahu akbar.” One policeman is said to have been injured. Three men between 16 and 18 years old were arrested.

There are also reports of Muslims expressing anger against the attackers, trying to stop them from interrupting Vilks. Muslim bloggers and spokespersons have expressed their disappointment with the young men behind the attack.

Two days later someone hacked Vilks homepage and left a message where he promised to kill the artist. Earlier this year a group in the UK – amongst them an American woman called Jihad Jane – was revealed by police planning to kill Vilks.

Swedish artist attacked at university lecture

The controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who’s been threatened and attacked several times since he drew “Muhammad as a Roundabout dog” a couple of year ago, was attacked during a lecture at Uppsala University Tuesday, May 11. Vilks had been invited to Uppsala University to talk about “Art and the freedom of speech.” About ten minutes in to his lecture he showed the video “Allah hu Gaybar” by Iranian artist Sooreh Hera.

In the video naked men appears in Muhammad-masks. This was too much for a young man in the audience who rushed forth and reportedly gave Vilks a “head butt” before he was overpowered by body guards and police. Some teens in the audience began fighting, while others were shouting “Allahu Akbar.” One policeman is said to have been injured. Three men between 16 and 18 years old were arrested.

There are also reports of Muslims expressing anger against the attackers, trying to stop them from interrupting Vilks. Muslim bloggers and spokespersons have expressed their disappointment with the young men behind the attack.

Two days later someone hacked Vilks homepage and left a message where he promised to kill the artist. Earlier this year a group in the UK – amongst them an American woman called Jihad Jane – was revealed by police planning to kill Vilks.

New Dissertation makes the news

When Mosa Sayed, researcher at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, defended his thesis, “Islam och arvsrätt i det mångkulturella Sverige. En internationellt privaträttslig och jämförande studie” (“Islam and inheritence law in multicultural Sweden”) it was spoken about as controversial already, and as a result the hall was packed and had to be guarded by watchmen. Even so the disputation ran without interruptions.

Dr. Sayed himself says the dissertation is to be considered a contribution to the debate of multiculturalism in Sweden.

In a response, well known debater on Islam related subjects Dilsa Demirbag-Stan says Sayed is pleading for the introduction of Shari’a inheritance laws for Muslims in Sweden – and this, she states, would give women half the inheritance of men. “Eager to express their sympathy for multiculturalism, the faculty of law in Uppsala have let Sayed’s sniper-shooting at the Swedish constitution and the citizen’s equal rights pass as law.”

In a response to Demirbag-Sten, Torbjörn Andersson – Dean of the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University – states that “Sayed’s thesis is a pioneering work in a field in need of exchange of opinions and research, but which also is charged with political tension. To discuss multi- and mono-cultural value structures, equality issues, and people need to be able to arrange their family affairs in a predictable way, requires nuance and objectivity. Sayed shoulders his responsibility.”

Secularisation & Secularism

Secularisation – the process of a dividing the realms of politics and religion – has been influencing national and worldly affairs for several hundred years. The idea of the desirability of such a division – secularism – is nowadays a given backdrop for public policy issues regarding education, family, gender, media, migration, personal integrity and freedom, reproduction and sexuality. But globalisation and multicultural trends, as well as claims from religious groups for increased political influence or autonomy and the uncertain and varying responses to these from society, have made us aware that the secularist ideal has been realized through the process of secularisation in radically different ways in different settings. As a result, an identity crisis is presently afflicting secular societies. It is no longer as clear what secularism is supposed to amount to, why secularisation is desirable and where its proper limits are. To investigate questions about this is the focus of a newly initiated multidisciplinary research theme at the University of Gothenburg.

Speakers

  • ABDULLAHI AN-NA’IM, Human Rights Law, Emory University
  • KENT GREENAWALT, Law, Columbia University
  • BRIAN PALMER, Anthropology & Religion, Uppsala University & University of Gothenburg
  • PAUL WEITHMAN, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
  • LINDA WOODHEAD, Religious Studies, Lancaster University

Venue

Registration

The conference is open to the public and free of charge. Registration is required for attendance.

Contact & Information

Website

Email: secularism@filosofi.gu.se

Sweden: Ban headscarves’ say half of Swedes

Islamic headscarves ought to be banned at workplaces and in schools – that’s the view of half the people surveyed in a new Swedish poll. The poll, the third of its kind taken by Uppsala University to measure Swedes’ views of diversity, shows a rising number of people supporting a headscarf ban.