Danish Mohammed cartoonist snubs trial
Copenhagen - Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, known for his controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, said on Friday he had not been informed of a trial against him in Jordan and said he would in any case not attend.
"I have not heard about this trial and have not been informed," the 75-year-old cartoonist said when asked about upcoming court proceedings in Amman.
Zakarya Sheikh, spokesperson for a group of local media outlets that sued Westergaard in 2008 for depicting Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse, said on Thursday the artist and others had been summoned by a magistrates' court in Amman to stand trial on April 25.
A copy of the subpoena obtained by AFP says Westergaard "is accused of the crime of blasphemy" for his drawing, which was one of 12 caricatures of the Muslim prophet first published in a Danish newspaper in September 2005.
"In any case, I have no intention of going even if I am asked to," Westergaard said on Friday, pointing out that "I do not want to risk becoming familiar with the Jordanian prisons, which would be hell."
"I have not done anything illegal in Denmark. I only did my job and I will always defend the right to freedom of expression," he said, reiterating meanwhile that he had "never had the intention to offend Muslims and their faith with my caricature".
The drawing, he insisted, was "a condemnation of terrorists who commit acts of terror in the name of Islam".
A Jordanian prosecutor summoned Westergaard for questioning in 2008 after 30 independent newspapers, websites and radio stations in Jordan sued him for his cartoon, which was republished in at least 17 Danish dailies and sparked violent protests in a number of Muslim countries, including the kingdom.
Jordanian MPs have demanded that the government sever ties with Denmark, and Amman has condemned the caricature, warning that it could spark further extremism and harm relations between Denmark and Muslim countries.
Westergaard himself has faced numerous death threats and even assassination attempts since the initial publication of his drawing in the Jyllands-Posten daily, which has also been the target of a number of attack plots.