Cartoonist opposes his work being 'hijacked', rejects offer

Copenhagen, Denmark - Danish newspaper cartoonist Kurt Westergaard said Tuesday he opposed efforts by an anti-Muslim group to use his controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in a planned protest. A group called Stop the Islamization of Denmark (SIOE) planned a protest this weekend in the city of Aalborg and has urged supporters to download the cartoon that shows the prophet with a bomb in his turban, and print it on placards and T-shirts.

"I don't want to be politically hijacked," Westergaard told radio station P4 Nordjylland.

"I am a cartoonist with a large newspaper. A cartoon like this belongs in a newspaper or magazine," he added, saying he had approached the Union of Journalists to stop the abuse of his work.

The cartoon was one of the 12 cartoons that triggered an uproar in 2006 when it was published in Westergaard's newspaper Jyllands- Posten, sparking violent protests in many Muslim countries.

It was republished in February in several Danish newspapers after police said they had foiled a murder plot against Westergaard who has lived at secret locations since November.

Danish media analysts said Westergaard had the rights to the cartoon but wondered if organizers of the Aalborg march would heed his appeal.

In a related development, the Jyllands-Posten newspaper Tuesday reported that Westergaard had been offered 5,000 dollars for the original cartoon and rights to it.

The offer to "purchase that original ink sketch and its copyright" was made in a hand-written letter penned by a US national identified as Martin J McNally, who was serving a prison sentence for hijacking two planes in 1972.

The newspaper published a facsimile of the letter.

McNally, 64, did not say what he planned to use the cartoon for, and Westergaard was quoted as saying it was an "exciting offer that deserves a reply."

Westergaard said he would not sell the cartoon, but planned to donate the original to the Danish national library archives when he retires as a cartoonist.

The cartoonist said he had no means of vouching that the offer was really made by McNally, who was sentenced to two consecutive life terms for the hijackings.