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Danish Mohammed cartoonist retires

COPENHAGEN (AFP) - The Danish cartoonist whose Prophet Mohammed caricatures ignited violent protests in the Muslim world announced Monday he is retiring with hopes of damping down the danger to himself and fellow journalists.

Lars Vilks joins 'Kill Lars Vilks' Facebook group
Swedish cartoonist returns to place of attack

Kurt Westergaard said he felt it was time to end his 25-year career at the Jyllands-Posten which first published the cartoons in September 2005 that led to protests against Denmark and the newspaper and threats on the cartoonist's life.

"I do not want anymore to pose a danger to the security of the daily and its employees, and I want simply to do something else," said Westergaard, who turns 75 next month.

In January he was the victim of an attempted murder by a Somali man at his home near the central-west town of Arhus. He escaped by locking himself in the bathroom behind a reinforced door. Since then he has been under police protection.

"I hope that my departure will help reduce the level of threats against the Jyllands-Posten," Westergaard told AFP.

The cartoons, including one featuring Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, sparked protests in January and February 2006 that culminated with the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in Damascus and Beirut and the death of dozens of people in Nigeria.

In 2008, around 20 Danish newspapers reproduced the drawings triggering further protests in Muslim countries including Sudan, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Westergaard has been on leave from the newspaper for security reasons since last November after two men were arrested in Chicago with plans to attack the newspaper.

As for his future plans, he said he no longer wants to draw cartoons but is looking to exhibit other artworks, in particular watercolours, at a gallery in the city of Skanderborg.


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