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'Plot' to kill Denmark cartoonist
Three held for allegedly planning to murder one of the prophet-cartoon illustrators.
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2008 21:35 GMT
The cartoons provoked outrage around the world among devout Muslims [GALLO/GETTY]

A Danish citizen of Moroccan descent and two Tunisians have been arrested in connection with a plot to murder a cartoonist whose drawings of the Prophet Muhammad caused an uproar in 2006.
 
The Danish security service said on Tuesday the arrests were made after lengthy surveillance to prevent a "terror-related killing" that was being planned.
The arrests were made near Aarhus in western Denmark.
 
The Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said it expected the 40-year-old Danish citizen to be released pending further investigation.
 
The Tunisians will remain detained while deportation proceedings are brought against them.
Worldwide outrage 
 
According to Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that originally published the cartoons in September 2005, the suspects are accused of planning to kill Kurt Westergaard.
 
Westergaard, 73, a staff cartoonist at Jyllands-Posten who has been accused of being both anti-Semitic and anti-Christian in the past, drew the cartoon that caused the most controversy.

The paper reproduced that drawing on its website on Tuesday.

At the time, the cartoons drew little initial attention but were later reprinted outside Denmark, provoking outrage among Muslims, most of whom deem any depiction of the prophet as offensive.

Three Danish embassies were attacked and at least 50 people were killed in rioting in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Plot condemned

Several young Muslims have since been convicted in Denmark of planning bomb attacks, partly in protest at the cartoons.

Lene Espersen, Denmark's justice minister, said she had been briefed by the PET but could not comment further. 

Danish media said Westergaard has been under PET's protection for several months.

The Islamic Faith Community, a Muslim organisation at the centre of the cartoon controversy, condemned the plot, saying all disagreements should be handled via legal channels.

In a statement, it said: "It does not serve our purpose that people take the law into their own hands. On the contrary.

"We want to appeal to reason in both politicians and the media to not use this miserable example to feed the flames or use it for their own profit. No one in Denmark deserves to live in fear."

Cartoonist security

In the 2006 book The Mohammad Crisis, written by Per Bech Thomsen, Westergaard said he did not expect the cartoons to become a global affair.

"The idea was to illustrate that terrorists get their ammunition from the fundamentalist parts of Islam," Westergaard said.

"It was not aimed at Muslims and Islam in general, but against the part that inspires and uses death and destruction."

Westergaard told Thomsen he felt misunderstood.

"I was part of the project to strike a blow for freedom of expression and the anger over being threatened because one does one's work, drowns out the fear," he said.

Source:
Agencies
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