Swedish visual artist and activist Lars Vilks, known for the 2007 controversy surrounding his drawing of Prophet Muhammad, died in a car accident on October 3. In the backdrop of this, a five-minute clip showing the aftermath of an accident between a truck and a car is being shared on WhatsApp. The car is in flames and a person can be heard screaming in anguish. Some social media texts have claimed that the video shows “Allah’s fury against Vilks”.

The text on WhatsApp reads, “Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who lived under police protection after his 2007 depiction of the Prophet Mohammed prompted death threats, died Sunday in a car accident.”

The video has also been shared with a slightly altered text that can be read below.

VIDEO VERIFICATION

A keyword search on Twitter pulls up results of Vilks’s accident. Turkish news website Ensonhaber tweeted a video of the incident on October 4. A quick glance reveals that this video and the viral video are shot in different locations.

We performed a reverse image search on Yandex and were led to a longer version of the viral video on a Russian YouTube channel uploaded in 2015. People are trying to put out the fire so that the person inside the car can be rescued. Whilst the victim can’t be seen his screams can be heard.

Based on this information, we performed a keyword search on Google using the Russian words shown below and found multiple reports related to the incident.

Russian website Fontanka reported that the video shows a September 2014 accident. It took place on the Izhevsk-Mozhga highway in the Russian state of Udmurtia. In the accident, nine cars collided and one 39-year-old was burnt to death.

Russian news channel REN TV also uploaded the video in September 2014.

Thus, a 2014 incident of a man being burnt alive inside a car after an accident on a Russian highway was shared with the false claim that it shows the death of Swedish visual artist and activist Lars Endel Roger Vilks.

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About the Author

Archit is a fact-checking journalist at Alt News since November 2019. Previously, he has worked as a producer at a TV news channel and as a reporter at a leading English-language daily. In addition to work experience in media, he has also worked as a fundraising and communication manager at an NGO.