STOCKHOLM — The Swedish media rallied Sunday behind a cartoonist whose depiction of the Islamic prophet as a dog earned him death threats from Al Qaeda in Iraq, as Swedish companies braced for a backlash.
Cartoonist Lars Vilks said he was ready to die after extremists in Iraq offered $150,000 to anyone who slit his throat, or $100,000 for his murder by other means.
“We must not give in,” he was quoted as saying in the Dagens Nyheter daily that republished the cartoon in small format Sunday.
“I’m starting to grow old. I could die at any time – it’s not a catastrophe,” he said.
The group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq, otherwise known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, also put $50,000 on the head of Ulf Johansson, editor in chief of the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper that published the caricature.
Swedish media condemned the threats, issued through the Internet Saturday in the form of a statement in the name of the group’s purported leader, Sheikh Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.
“We live in a country where freedom of expression is not dictated by fundamentalists, nor by governments,” wrote Dagens Nyheter chief editor Thorbjorn Larsson in an editorial.
And let’s keep it that way, shall we?