At least three Swedish newspapers on Wednesday published a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog after an alleged plot to murder the artist who created it was uncovered in Ireland.
The controversial drawing by Swedish artist Lars Vilks was printed in Stockholm papers Dagens Nyheter and Expressen and the Malmo daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet.
Irish authorities had said Tuesday they detained four men and three women suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to kill Vilks.
Sydsvenska Dagbladet said it printed the drawing as part of its news coverage of the alleged plot. Expressen said it printed it for its news value and to take a stance for the freedom of speech.
Dagens Nyheter said in an editorial that "Vilks doesn't stand alone in this conflict. A threat against him is, in the long term, also a threat against all Swedes."
Vilks has faced several death threats since the drawing was first printed by a Swedish newspaper in 2007, a year after separate cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper sparked furious protests in Muslim nations. Al-Qaeda put
a $100,000 bounty on his head.
Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.
Vilks said Wednesday he wasn't sure whether to take the alleged plot seriously.
"Not until all the cards are on the table. I'm sure they have plans, but the question is how far they can go," he told The Associated Press by telephone.
Vilks said it was possible he was also being targeted by an American woman accused by US authorities of recruiting jihadist fighters online. Colleen R. LaRose had discussions her alleged plans with at least one of the suspects apprehended in Ireland, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to discuss details of the investigation.
Sweden's security police, SAPO, declined to comment on whether the cases in Ireland and the US were linked to Vilks.