CAIRO - A planned exhibition mocking Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) by a Swedish artist known for his anti-Muslim views is sparking deep worries in Sweden, The Local newspaper reported Thursday, February 21.
"(Lars) Vilks is increasingly associated in people's minds with xenophobic groups at the far right of the political spectrum, Ilmar Reepalu, Mayor of Malmo, told the TT news agency.
I hope not a single person visits the gallery."
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Vilks is planning a series of paintings about Prophet Muhammad at an exhibition in the southern city of Malmo in July.
The gallery will feature paintings of the Prophet with a dog's body by several artists.
The planned gallery has promoted calls for representatives of different religions to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the exhibition.
The controversial artist had sparked uproar in 2007 after his depiction of the Prophet with a dog's body.
The publication of the lampooning caricature was accompanied by an editorial lauding the freedom of expression.
Islam strictly prohibits the depiction of the Prophet as blasphemous.
Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad also sparked an international crisis in 2005, when a Danish daily published 12 drawings of a man said to be the prophet.
The drawings included one showing the prophet wearing a tomb-shaped turban and another showing him as a knife-wielding nomad flanked by shrouded women.
The cartoons were later reprinted by European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression, straining ties between the Muslim world and the West.
Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.
Observers and officials are worried that the blasphemous gallery would trigger violence in the country.
I urge everyone to avoid violence in their demonstrations, because then the cause will be lost, said BjÃ¶rn LagerbÃ¤ck of the municipal anti-discrimination project Dialogforum.
Mayor Reepalu is also worried.
"Of course he has the right to display what he calls art anywhere he wants," he said.
"But as far as I can gather, this is pretty bad art and I think they want to use the gallery for political ends.
Protests swept the Muslim world in September over a US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad.
Scores of people died in the protests, including the US ambassador in Libya.
The offensive film triggered calls for a UN resolution banning the defamation of religions.Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden's nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net