Lars Vilks, Artist, Hero of the Free World

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Here I sit in the comfort of my home, surrounded by picture windows, taking time to write my thoughts about the last few days with Lars Vilks, Swedish artist—a man who has no such luxury.  Vilks has been condemned for a pencil drawing he drew of Mohammed depicted as a dog in traffic.  The work was pulled from a gallery exhibition in a small Swedish town for fear of Muslim reprisals. The incident and illustration was then published in the local newspapers. Now, an enterprising Jihadi can earn $100,000 for executing Vilks, and get $50,000 extra if a knife is used to do the job.

Two days before his arrival, I learned just how seriously the U.S. law enforcement community assessed the threat to Vilks when I received an urgent call from the hotel where the appearance was to take place.  The manager told me there were twenty-five officers representing ten agencies, including FBI, Homeland Security and the Philadelphia Police Department’s SWAT team— there to discuss how they were going to keep Vilks alive during his 40-hour stay.  On a threat profile scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest threat, Vilks was a ten.

As Director of the Philadelphia offices of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, I invited Vilks to Philadelphia as part of a North American Tour to commemorate the fifth anniversary of another illustration, by Kurt Westegaard.  The Danish Cartoon controversy–sparked by a political cartoon depiction of Mohammed with a ticking time bomb in his Turban—had lead to deaths and executions around the world.  When the FBI showed up at my office, and Philly’s top commander of homeland security called my cell phone, I realized that I had no choice but to pull the plug on the public event.  Instead I arranged a series of press interviews at an undisclosed location.  Were it not for the interest of the press and their wide coverage, silencing Vilks would have marked a win for the Jihad, and another loss for freedom of speech and artistic expression.

Lars Vilks is among a small cadre of everyday people around the world living in unusual times and drawn to acts of social disobedience.  Men like Bjorn Larsen in Canada, Lars Hedegaard in Denmark, co-founders of the International Free Press Society defend Vilks and his Danish compatriot, Kurt Westegaard and their right to freedom of expression in a free society.  During my two days with Vilks, and Hedegaard who made the trip as well, I learned a great deal about the meaning of courage and overcame any doubts I had about becoming publicly identified with their cause.

Although Vilks himself doesn’t show any outward signs of worry about the price on his head, the Philadelphia’s Joint Terrorism Task Force didn’t overlook any detail or spare any expense to assure his safety.  Working with airport police and the TSA, a convoy of FBI, SWAT and Homeland Security officers escorted me to intercept Vilks and Hedegaard as they were disembarking the international flight.  They expedited our guests through US Customs to a private area and got us to an unmarked SUV driven by two large SWAT team agents, wearing bullet proof vests under dark suits.  Each was armed and in radio contact with other agents along our planned route.

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  • Alexander Gofen

    Display the Mohammed cartoons routinely! Print the labels and label all your letters with Mohammed cartoons!

    Burn and shred korans routinely!

    Shred and tear its pages into the face of every islamic crowd. That is what we can and must do right now: just to begin with…

    Too bad that it took long 9 years after the 9/11 for this movement even to emerge. When this initiative becomes routine on the national scale, at least the artists will not need body guards around the clock any more…

    • bdouglasaf1980

      Desensitization therapy. I can support that.

    • marat1

      Islamic Terror Supremacy thrives on intimidation. Personally, I would also love to see the West carpet bomb the entire Islamic world with the hardest core pornography available. I can just anticipate the response of the Media and the administration….oh, no way, Muslims "might get angry." My response is that giving in to fascist intimidation and death threats gets Muslims angry. Viva Westergaard and what remains of Western Free Speech. How Islam, given its Totalitarianist and Fascist Sharia "law" ever was granted Tax Exemption for its institutions in the West is beyond me. Thing is, the reaction to Islam, conceiving of it like "just any other religion" is akin to the reaction of so many dolts to Hamas–oh, they run charities, social services for Muslims. Essentially, on one level, Americans pay for the mosques where many "clerics" have been permitted to foment terror against their fellow citizens.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    Robert Spencer recently penned an article in which he blamed the bigotry of low expectations for the MSM's lack of interest in reporting Muslim death-threats to a growing number of artists and writers. I wrote at Jihad Watch that I thought Robert's analysis was too generous to the MSM.

    He's absolutely correct of course, it IS the bigotry of low expectations: Muslims threatening to kill non-combatants is so pervasive around the world that it's hardly exceptional (except of course to those being targeted). But there is another reason these stories don't get reported, while death threats to Imam Rauf and his wife DO. It is a deliberate attempt by the MSM to shape the national narrative in favor of the liberal/left agenda.

    It mirrors the refusal of European media to identify Muslims in reporting violent crimes and civil unrest. Euphemisms such as "Asians" or "youths" are used instead, in a conscious effort to keep the public from comprehending reality. It is a deliberate policy of lying by omission…and is a systematic betrayal of journalistic ethics.

    • Alexander Gofen

      The term "bigotry" is abused, overused and became meaningless. What the MSM does – it covers, whitewashes and abets the enemy. It is beyond grotesque that peaceful citizens must be kept as though in cages while islamic piranhas swim freely. And the authorities demand payments for the heightened security from the citizens – instead of rounding up piranhas.

      It is beyond grotesque because even when Soviets assassinated their targets in the West, there were no "crowds of Soviet assassins" in the West freely walking and even forming their enclaves!

  • jim

    Q: Is there justification for burning Korans or drawing cartoons of Muhammad?
    A: YES! Those who burn Korans or draw cartoons of Muhammad are sending a message that free speech is sacred and free people are not going to allow Islamic intimidation to shut it down.

    Pamela, Robert, David, Geert, and others are great spokesmen for the effort to inform people of the dangers of Islam, and they have pointed out that we, the people, having the right to free speech, also have the right to draw cartoons of anything we want to, including the warrior Muhammad, as well as the right to burn anything we want to, including the right to burn Mein Kampf or my Koran.

    But, THEY ALSO NEED TO PROMOTE THE EXERCISE OF FREE SPEECH, draw Muhammad days, Koran burning days, an "International Free Speech Day", to remind free people that we must protect the freedom of speech. We're either in their face, or they're in our behinds. There can be no backing up or backing down.

    Here's a petition for an International Free Speech Day:

  • Andres de Alamaya

    To begin with, as a dog lover, I must register a critical complaint on the sketch which, alas, is a poor one. Dogs are man’s best friend and Muhammad was exactly the opposite. Why must dogs be insulted?

    That aside, we need a Fatwa Boomerang Society which will track down the issuer of any such fatwa and dispatch an assassination team to eliminate him, her or them. When certain death comes to the issuer of fatwas, future issuers will think twice before they issue future fatwas.

    Such a fatwa, however, should be looked upon as an opportunity to send to their Allah all opportunistic jihadists who will be attracted by the offer and who will come to try to assassinate the artist thereby becoming visible in the sights of our execution team.

    • marat1

      Andres, I have long speculated and suggested that the West needs to develop a coordinated hit squad to deal with so-called "clerics" who play a critical role and particular Islamic mass murder attacks. All mosques, by law, should be bugged if allowed to exist. I do not consider this "extremism" because Islam, given its foundation of Sharia Law is pure totalitarianism and fascism. The latter, by definition, involves the use of threat/intimidation and physical force or murder to achieve a political goal. This IS Islam at its core and I am sick of the apologists who wish to distort reality and thereby feel self-righteous in condemning what they call "Islamophobia." In point of fact, it is NOT a phobia, which refers to a fear, but a sheer detestation of a fascist ideology that is devoid of any respect for individual human conscience and free will. An Egyptian man and his ENTIRE family were recently condemned to Death by the Courts of Egypt for the Crime of converting to Christianity. This abominable tyranny of Islam, frankly, has NO place in our society, running in total conflict with our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Who will dare speak to this and counter these politically incorrect mouthpieces who merely are advancing the objective of the enslavement of the U.S. and virtually every democracy. Islamists FIGHT for their values. But WHO is fighting for them in the West, beyond people like Vilks, Westergaard, Wilders and scattered writers? It is a crazy universe where some obscure pastor who wishes to burn KORANS gets pressure put upon him at the top level of our government….yet Muslim robots whose big joy in life is to expunge the lives of others have relative freedom to ply their wares in terms of congregation and being tutored in supposed Houses of Worship that are Tax Free in our nation. How about a SIMPLE law that would at least RESCIND the Tax Free STATUS of ANY Mosque found to harbor a leader/cleric who foments sheer murder or intimidation. I do not see this as conflicting with Free Speech. As an ASTUTE poitician commented during the enormous sadness after 9/11, "the U.S. Constitution was NOT a Suicide Pact."

  • Jane Baer

    Thank you Lars Vilks and the Swedish culture that produced a man who innocently treated people equally.

  • tagalog

    I though Molly Norris was wrong for doing that Everybody Draw Muhammed Day thing that got her fatwa'd. Now I think it really IS time to have such a day. The free world needs to let these murderous, humorless, bastards off at the proper stop. What a bunch of beasts. Again, the obvious: where are the moderate Muslims who would say that drawing a picture of Muhammed as a dog is offensive but doesn't deserve a murder contract? Nobody's advocating a death sentence for Andres Serrano for Piss Christ.

    • Pete

      I agree that this Islamic oversensitivity has gone over the top and should be disregarded because it is a control ploy. But also, as an Orthodox Christian, I understand that it is a good idea not to offend persons of other religions. But as a man who loves God I would add this, I'd like to whip Serrano's ass for his desecration. Just because someone has the right to offend someone doesn't mean that they should do it.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        But also, as an Orthodox Christian, I understand that it is a good idea not to offend persons of other religions.

        People who equate Islam with faith based religions and Muhammadans with adherents of faith-based religions are really naïve to the extreme. For instance, what religion forbids the freedom of conscience under the pain of death? What religion punishes apostasy and blasphemy under the pain of death? What religion restricts the freedom of speech? What religion systematically persecutes and often violently oppresses females and non-Muslims? What religion mandates jihad in the name of Allah for the spread of Islam? The answer is no religions do such things. However, Islam in stark contrast to faith-based religions does those things because Islam in reality is not a religion. Instead, it is a militant theo-political totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion to infiltrate the societies it intends to subjugate and subsume.

        • marat1

          Replying to you, under Islamic law, ANY "cleric" can call for the Death of ANYONE who is deemed to "be a Threat to Islam." Which invariably means anyone who offends this individual or hits too close to home in their criticism. Don't you understand that this is EXACTLY the situation in which Islam (which is a TOTAL system–socio-political, legal, with strict laws) runs into absolute Conflict with our very Constitution. Vilks is merely another citizens of the West with a price on his head, issued by an Islamo-MAFIOSO call for his contract killing. If Islam arrived a mere year ago on the planet, our NATION would have OUTLAWED IT as a violent ideology that attempts to UNDERMINE our Constitution and Bill of Rights. How would you feel about allowing equal rights? You know, Priests, Rabbis and Ministers should ALL have the "right" to call for the death of ANYONE who "threatens their ideology." Its insane of course. YOUR mistake is in seeing Islam as merely "another religion" and so say it is "not a good idea" to offend such individuals. NONSENSE. THOSE who would KILL all THOSE who have harsh criticism of their faiths/beliefs SHOULD be offended. Further, they should be DRAGGED INTO COURT for threatening death to others. Convert to another religion in Islam? You can be killed. LEAVE Islam of your own free will? You can be KILLED. You call this a "religion?????????" A religion of death perhaps….

          • Fiddler

            Very well put. The West needs to call a spade a spade. It is utter stupidity to call for instance Buddhism and Islam equivalent. Mere comparisons to peaceful religions need to be front stage to schools and elsewhere. They are not equivalent. The go against the grain of anything peace-loving. It never fails to amaze me where NOW is! Where are all the feminists with their outcry against this institutionalized hatred of woment?? WHERE?

  • jim

    Where can you get Muhammed cartoon labels for letters as mentioned by Alex above?

  • bdouglasaf1980

    Why don't the real Christian churches take up the cause of protecting the people who have had fataws issues against them the same way many took up the protection of runaway slaves? There could be a Fatwa underground railroad movement. Also, donations for personal protection would be a great help.

  • happy infidel

    if you have a printer, you can download any and all pictures off the internet (with permissions if required from said artist), insert said picture into a letterhead of a word document (in microsofts word you can put in in the header section so it stays there without interfering with the body of the letter) and vola you have a choice of which lovely piccies of mo you want to send that day.

    And if you are sending such a letter to a follower of mo, insure you copy and paste "arabic holy words" (if it has mo's name or allhakababa's name on it its concidered holy) through the document, thus if they shred, burn, crumple up and throw out, they are apostates and all their mates will fatwa on them.

    • jim

      I'd like to use the "bomb-head" Muhammed cartoon and have it on a 1.5" x 1.5" self-sticking label. It would be a great addition to every letter that went out around the world.

      • bubba4

        Way to be a dick.

  • Michael

    Islam is missing the one trait that rounds out the humanity in non Islamics and that missing trait is " a sense of humor". They give themselves immunity to debase all other religions and refer to us as "Infidels" They openly compare Jews to apes , pigs and
    monkeys . Call for Israel to removed from the map.
    When we refer to them as Terrorists and Barbarians they get upset. They outlaw Christianity in their countries. Bibles are banned in Saudi Arabia. Can we ban the Koran in America ? We are a Christian Nation which tolerates Islam . Islamic Nations do not tolerate Christianity.
    On 9-11-11 we should give them a taste of their own medicine … burn Korans , threaten death to anyone insulting Christianity and carry signs saying …….Convert or Die and
    …"An addition of Muslims to a Nation is a subtraction in civilization."
    American Christian infidel
    Michael Canzano

  • USMCSniper

    An hour-long "20/20" special by Diane Sawyer will air on Friday night. The special, "Diane Sawyer Reporting: Islam — Questions & Answers," will attempt to answer five questions viewers submitted. They are: "what is Islam? ASK BAT YE'OR Why do radicals feel violence is justified? THE KORAN TELLS THEM TO KILL INFIDELS Is Western culture at odds with Islam? ISLAM IS AT ODDS WITH FREEDOM AND WESTERN CULTURE Where is the moderate Muslim voice? THERE IS NONE How can we all get along?" MUSLIMS WANT US AS DHIMMIS UNDER SHARIA TO GET ALONG It will be Sawyer's first primetime special since taking over the "World News" anchor chair. I AM SURE SHE WILL BE CHARMING AND TERRIBLY NAIVE AS WELL.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    In his soft-spoken manner, he explained he was an equal opportunity iconoclast; why should Islam be spared from his artistic criticisms of religion any more than Christians, Jews or Hindus? He has insulted them all.

    Well that was his first mistake. He assumed Islam is a religion. However, Islam ceased being a religion immediately after the Hijra, Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina, when Islam morphed from the realm of religion to the realm of jihad, politics, and conquest, which also, by the way, accounts for all of Islam’s success. Had Islam remained just a religion like it was before the Hijra in Medina, Islam would have simply died out in the deserts of the Arabian peninsular with Muhammad and no one would have ever heard of Muhammad and his Islam.

    However, because Islam morphed from being a religion into becoming a theo-political totalitarian ideology that seeks to subjugate the world via the imposition of Sharia as its main goal, it became wildly successful as Islam conquered much of the known world in the succeeding 100 years following Muhammad’s death, and is still menacing the world to this day. People need to learn and realize that Islam is not a religion, but instead a militant theo-political totalitarian ideology that seeks world domination, which is its raison d’etre.

    And the irony is this: While we wonder why he didn’t censor himself, Lars Vilks asks, why do we permit violent Muslims, in a tolerant multicultural society, to threaten critics with death and dismemberment? It’s a good question. The better question.

    In reality it is senseless to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars in security just to accommodate Muhammadans and their excess baggage. For one thing, we can’t afford it; we’re broke. Instead, we need to stop fooling ourselves and admit the obvious. Then forbid further Muhammadan immigration into the West. Don’t worry the ones that are already naturalized citizens will realize that there is no hope of subjugating us from within and will then either return back to Dar al Islam on their own accord or otherwise decide to assimilate and integrate. In any event, if they revert to violence and Sharia, then they need to be shown the door.

    Sounds harsh and drastic I know, but nothing else will work. It’s either sacrifice our freedoms or stop Muhammadan immigration. I mean even if we continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on security as we are doing today thanks to Muhammadan immigration, they will nonetheless force us to sacrifice our freedoms, as they are already doing today.

    • jim

      Nothing harsh about it. That's just the reality of the situation we're in, us and Holland, and England, and France, and Germany, and, and, and. They have no intention to assimilate into the culture of the host country. Instead, they expect the host country to adapt to their culture. To hell with 'em!

  • SeaMystic

    The Flame of Freedom speaks—the Flame of Freedom within each Heart.
    The Flame of Freedom saith unto all: come apart now and be a Separate and Chosen People,
    Elect unto God—Men and Women who have chosen their election well,
    Who have determined to cast their lot in with the Immortals.
    These are they who have set their teeth with determination, who have said:
    We will never give up
    We will never turn back
    We will never submit
    We will bear the flame of freedom unto our victory
    We will bear this flame in honour
    We will sustain the glory of life within our nation
    We will sustain the glory of life within our beings
    We will forsake all idols and
    We will forsake the idol of our outer self
    We will have the glory of our immaculate divinely conceived
    Self manifesting within me
    We are freedom
    We are determined to be freedom
    We are the flame of freedom
    We are determined to bear it to all
    We are God’s freedom and he is indeed free
    We are freed by his power and his power is supreme
    We are fulfilling the purpose of God’s kingdom:

  • SeaMystic

    Charge a poll tax on all Muslims, for all the security costs "NOW".
    Which are imposed on our countries through the Words of Mohammed, and his followers..