CAIRO/STOCKHOLM: Dublin-based European Fatwa Council will issue a fatwa against a death threat allegedly made by the Iraqi Al-Qaeda-affiliate Sheikh Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi against Lars Vilks and Ulf Johansson, the organization said on Monday.
Appearing on the internet, the death threat put a bounty on the head of Vilks, the artist behind the recent controversial Swedish cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) as a roundabout dog, and Johansson, the editor of the newspaper that published the cartoon.
We are not agreeing with Al-Qaeda’s statement. We do not believe that someone should be killed for this. That is not Islam, said Hussein Halawa, secretary general of the European Fatwa Council to the Swedish press.
The European Federation for Islamic Organizations in Europe, an organization with offices in 29 countries, has also spoken out against the threats.
To many people’s surprise, however, the Swedish government has not officially condemned Al-Qaeda’s death threat.
“Prime Minister Reinfeldt urges people to stay calm and continue a strong dialogue. At the same time, he has made it clear that death threats against Swedish citizens are unacceptable and rejects acts of violence and extremism. He also emphasizes that Sweden is a country where Christians and Muslims live side by side in harmony, Gussran Alnadaz from the press office of the Swedish government told Daily News Egypt.
Sheikh Al-Baghdadi – whose identity and existence are still under analysis and debate – has reportedly called for the “liquidation of the cartoonist who offended our prophet, offering up to $100,000 in reward to anyone who kills “the infidel criminal.
The reward will supposedly be raised to $150,000 if Vilk’s throat is “slit like that of a lamb, according to Al-Baghdadi’s statement.
Furthermore, the Sheikh threatened attacks on Swedish firms unless an apology was issued.
We know how to force you to apologize. If you do not, expect us to strike the businesses of your major firms like Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, IKEA and Electrolux, said the message.
Al-Baghdadi is said to be the leader of Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization composed of a number of insurgent groups, including Al-Qaeda in Iraq and some Sunni clans.
Meanwhile, rumors have previously indicated that Al-Baghdadi was captured and killed by American troops in Iraq. Some sources even debate whether he has ever existed.
In response to his death threat, the eccentric cartoonist said that “it is good to know how much one is worth while emphasizing that “one cannot brush off an organization like Al-Qaeda.
“I ll have to look over my shoulder when crossing the street, Vilks continued.
On Tuesday, the artist was forced to move to a “secret location due to the heightened security threats against him.
“I have had to undertake a new lifestyle and cannot be found around town. I am exhausted and am in the middle of nowhere, Vilks stated on his internet blog www.vilks.net.
The Swedish Intelligence services stressed that they are “not afraid that Al-Qaeda directly will attack Vilks, but that someone else will act upon the organization’s threat against the artist.
Ulf Johansson, editor-in-chief of Nerikes Allehanda, the newspaper that first published Vilks’ controversial sketches said that he is “content with the police protection he is receiving and that there have been discussions about him moving to a secret location as well.