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'The bullet flew past my ear': Danish writer who was fined for making insulting remarks about Islam narrowly survives doorstep assassination attemptGunman rang doorbell of Lars Hedegaard's apartment in CopenhagenFired a bullet that narrowly missed the 70-year-old's headWould-be assassin fled after Mr Hedegaard punched him in the facePolice searching for 'foreign' man aged between 20 and 25
19:09 GMT, 5 February 2013
23:51 GMT, 5 February 2013
A writer and outspoken critic of Islam narrowly escaped being shot dead after he opened his door to a would-be assassin posing as a delivery man at his home in Denmark.
The gunman rang the doorbell of 70-year-old Lars Hedegaard's apartment in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, under the pretext of delivering a parcel, but when the writer opened his front door the hitman pulled out a weapon and fired a shot that just missed Mr Hedegaard's head.
According to Mr Hedegaard, who described how the bullet 'flew past' his right ear, said the sniper fled after the writer punched him in the face causing him to drop his gun.
Investigation: Danish police outside Mr Hedegaard's apartment in Frederiksberg, where a gunman fired a shot that narrowly missed the writer's head
Assassination attempt: Danish Lars Hedegaard, a writer and outspoken critic of Islam, opened his front door to a gunman posing as a delivery man
Mr Hedegaard, who heads up a group that claims press freedom is under threat from Islam, said the attack had left him shaken but not injured.
Police in Copenhagen confirmed they were searching for the suspect, described as a 'foreign' man aged between 20 and 25.
Mr Hedegaard said of the shock attack: 'The bullet flew past my right ear, after which I attacked him and punched him in the face, which made him lose the gun.'
The gunman then fled the scene, he said.
Hedegaard heads the Free Press Society in Denmark and its international offshoot, the International Free Press Society. He is also among the publishers of a weekly anti-Islam newsletter.
In 2011, he was convicted of hate speech and fined 5,000 kroner ($1,000) for making a series of insulting and degrading statements about Muslims.
Hunt: Police in Denmark are searching for the suspect, described as a 'foreign' man aged between 20 and 25
Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt condemned what she called a 'despicable' act.
'It is even worse if the attack is rooted in an attempt to prevent Lars Hedegaard to use his freedom of expression,' she said.
Mr Hedegaard has expressed support for a range of outspoken critics of Islam in Europe, including Swedish artist Lars Vilks and Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.
'Failed attack on my friend and Islam critic Lars Hedegaard in Denmark this morning. My thoughts are with him. Terrible,' Wilders posted on Twitter.
The Free Press Society said it was 'shaken and angry', but 'relieved that the perpetrator did not succeed'.
Hitman: A police officer gathers evidence outside Mr Hedegaard's home today
Critic: Mr Hedegaard was convicted of hate speech and fined in 2011 for making insulting and degrading remarks about Muslims
Several Scandinavian writers, artists and journalists have been exposed to threats and violence from extremists since the 2005 publication of Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad triggered an uproar in Muslim countries.
Many Muslims believe the prophet should not be depicted at all – even in a flattering way – because it might encourage idolatry
In 2010, a Somali man living in Denmark used an axe to break into the home of one of the cartoonists, who escaped unharmed by locking himself into a panic room.
Last year, four Swedish residents were convicted of terrorism in Denmark for plotting a shooting spree at the newspaper that first published the Muhammad caricatures.
In Sweden, Vilks has lived under police protection after a drawing he made depicting Muhammad as a dog led to death threats from militant Islamists.