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Culture clash: European art provokes Muslims
by Michael Weissenstein
With the West locked in conflicts across the Muslim world, why would anyone throw fuel on the fire?
A small group of Europeans have been doing just that - provoking death plots and at least one murder by turning out art that derides the Prophet Muhammad and the Quran in the name of Western values.
Behind the scenes is something bigger: a rising European unease with a rapidly growing Muslim minority, and the spreading sense that the continent has become a front in a clash of civilizations.
Recent events - including surprising electoral success by an anti-Islamic Dutch party, moves to ban veils in France and minarets in Switzerland, and arrests in Ireland and the U.S. this week in an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist - are signs of the rising tensions.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks says he was defending freedom of speech when he produced a crude black-and-white drawing of Muhammad with a dog's body in 2007. Authorities say that set him in the crosshairs of an assassination plot by extremists including Colleen LaRose, a 46-year-old Muslim convert from Pennsylvania who dubbed herself "Jihad Jane."
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