Autobiography of Danish cartoonist goes on sale

Copenhagen: The autobiography of the Danish cartoonist who sparked Muslim outrage by depicting the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb for a turban was quickly whisked off shelves by book buyers when it went on sale Friday.

In Denmark`s western town of Aarhus, the autobiography of Kurt Westergaard had already sold out and book stores there were "desperate" for more copies, John Lykkegaard, the author and publisher of the book, said Friday evening.

Book shop owners "visited me today to get more copies so I even handed out those that were meant for the press conference in Copenhagen on Monday," he reporters.

The book entitled ‘The Man Behind the Line’ details the life of 75-year-old Westergaard, and also features a republished version of his controversial drawing that has earned him numerous death threats and assassination attempts.

Westergaard`s cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb-like turban with a lit fuse was one of a dozen first published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 that caused violent and in some cases deadly protests the following year.

And the controversy has not gone away.

This past January a Somali man broke into Westergaard`s home and allegedly threatened to kill him with an axe and a knife.

In September a man was arrested after what appeared to be a letter bomb destined for the Jyllands-Posten went off prematurely, causing a small blast in a central Copenhagen hotel. Only the bomber was injured.

Suspected attack plotters against the newspaper have also been arrested in Norway and the United States over the past year.

Westergaard, who recently described Islam as a "reactionary religion" but said he would "stand up for people having the right to practice this religion," has insisted on the importance of his cartoon in the defence of freedom of expression.

According to the back-cover of his autobiography, the book aims to tell the story of the cartoonist`s life, "and why he cannot give up his fight for freedom of expression."

The offending drawing figures inside the book, while the cover is adorned with the last caricature Westergaard published in Jyllands-Posten before retiring in June.

That drawing features Westergaard riding a scraggy horse and carrying an oversized fountain pen and notebook, being pursued by a donkey carrying a weight with the words "freedom of expression" scrolled across it, topped with a live bomb and menacing clouds with the crescent moon of Islam lurking above.

Six thousand copies had been printed for the Friday release, although a technical problem meant Copenhagen shops did not receive the books on time Friday.

Lykkegaard nonetheless said 10,000 more copies would probably need to be printed early next week.

Bureau Report