Danish cartoonist criticized for addressing party conference

Danish cartoonist criticized for addressing party conference Copenhagen - A well-known Danish newspaper cartoonist has conceded he made a mistake when he accepted an invitation to address delegates at a populist Danish party known for its criticism of immigrants, reports said Monday.

Danish People's Party leader Pia Kjaersgaard hailed Kurt Westergaard as "a hero" after his remarks at a party conference over the weekend where he also received a standing ovation.

Westergaard, 73, has been the target of numerous threats after the September 2005 publication of his controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban.

The cartoon was one of 12 images published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. They sparked worldwide violent protests in 2006 and Danish companies were boycotted in many Muslim countries.

In February this year, the Danish security and intelligence service PET said it had uncovered a plot to murder Westergaard.

After learning of Westergaard's appearance, Jyllands-Posten's editor-in-chief Jorn Mikkelsen on Sunday criticized the decision, saying it jeopardized the newspaper's nonpartisan policy and he would not have given approval to such a request.

Westergaard told the newspaper Information that he "understood the reaction" from the editor-in-chief, adding he would "not make the mistake again" even though he had asked for permission in advance.

The cartoonist said that he did not intend "to denigrate Islam," but wanted to criticize "people who have used religion as spiritual ammunition in their actions," the newspaper report said.

A month ago, one of two Tunisian nationals held on suspicion since February of planning to murder Westergaard voluntarily left Denmark. (dpa)