Christ as dog sculpture aims to provoke debate in Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden - A Swedish artist unveiled Tuesday a sculpture depicting Christ as a well-endowed dog, saying he wanted to stimulate debate about religion and freedom of expression in the wake of a row over cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, Swedish media reported.

The artwork showed Jesus as a dog with a bloodstained head under a crown of thorns and an "enormous sexual organ", according to Swedish press agency TT.

However, within hours of the sculpture being installed on a roundabout in Skaanes Fagerhult, a town in the south of Sweden, it disappeared.

"I want religion to stop taking society and the vulnerable for idiots," the 59-year-old artist, Stig Ramsing, told the online version of Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper.

In Nordic countries the display of outlandish sculptures of dogs on roundabouts is a familiar art form which has become common in the past decade.

"It is my turn to follow [artist] Lars Vilks and provoke a sensible discussion about religion," Ramsing added.

Vilks is the Swedish artist whose cartoon of the prophet Mohammed with a dog's body published in the Swedish press this summer triggered massive controversy both in Sweden and abroad.

Sweden saw protests against Vilks' cartoon, while Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made diplomatic protests about the image. Death threats were also made against both Vilks and the editor of the newspaper which published the satirical cartoon.