Turks Hack 5000+ Swedish Web Sites

Hackers in Turkey have attacked more than 5,000 Swedish websites in the past week, and at least some of the sabotage appears linked to Muslim anger over a Swedish newspaper drawing that depicted the Prophet Muhammad's head on a dog's body.

Around 1,600 websites hosted by server-provider Proinet and 3,800 sites hosted by another company have been targeted, Proinet spokesman Kjetil Jensen said Sunday. Jensen said hackers, operating on a Turkish network, at times replaced files on the sites with messages.

According to Swedish news agency TT, the website of a children's cartoon called Bamse was replaced by a message saying Islam's prophet had been insulted.

The incidents have been reported to the police.

Islamic law is generally interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry. Dogs also are considered unclean by conservative Muslims.

The Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published the drawing by artist Lars Vilks in an Aug. 19 editorial. It triggered protests from Swedish Muslim groups and formal complaints from Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Iran. An insurgent leader in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, put a $100,000 bounty on Vilks' head.

Similar caricatures of the prophet, first published in 2005 by a Danish newspaper and reprinted in other European newspapers, triggered furious street protests in Muslim countries.

Stefan Grinneby, head of the Swedish communication watchdog's Internet incident centre Sitic, said attacks against Swedish websites from Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, have increased in the past three weeks. Some contained messages alluding to the drawing.

"You would need a very large police investigation to establish the connection to the prophet drawings, but considering the increase in recent weeks it is a fair assumption to make," he said.

Vilks said recently that he has no regrets about his portrayal of Muhammad, despite receiving death threats. He said Muslims living in the West would have to get used to disrespectful drawings of their religious symbols, "because here in the West we mock everything."

He also said he may convert the dispute into a musical, with prominent roles depicting Iran's president, Sweden's prime minister and al-Qaida terrorists.

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