16 Feb 2015

Lars Vilks in ‘secret place’ after Denmark shooting

Artist Lars Vilks tells Channel 4 News he is in hiding after a free speech debate he hosted in Copenhagen was targeted by a gunman.

Two people died in separate attacks over the weekend in Copenhagen.

A film director and a Jewish man were killed after the suspected gunman, named by Danish media as Omar El-Hussein, targeted a free speech debate and a synagogue.
Lars Vilks, the controversial cartoonist who escaped unhurt from the café hosting the debate, told Channel 4 News he is now in hiding.

“I am at a secret place, totally unknown. I can’t give you countries or one place. I can only just say that I will remain here until we have a more clear picture of how things are looking and hopefully I will go back into a bit more normal routines within a few days or a week or so.

“I have become some sort of symbol because I’m pointed out as a kind of target and that target is then attacked. But there is this kind of symbol that is chosen for this purpose and the idea about freedom of speech or the attack on it.

Mr Vilks said he was “taken by surprise” when the gunman attacked.

“It’s so unreal. It takes some time before you actually can co-ordinate and understand that we are under attack. Is this really happening? Is it for real? It’s a very strange situation.”

The Swedish artist produced a series of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in 2007, but says he feels no guilt after one man was killed in the attack on Saturday.

“We have a murder who was [in] cold blood sinking another person. And that’s the deed. That is his reason.

“It would be like saying that when he attacked the Jews: if they were not in Copenhagen then we wouldn’t have the problem. It’s a kind of stupid logic.”

Mr Vilks said he will continue to produce cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

“It’s a part of my trademark. It’s not about that it’s not why I do, it’s what I have done and the symbol of that so if I make a new painting nobody will care.”