A photo taken on February 24, 2010 shows Lars Hedegaard, a prominent Danish Islam critic who heads controversial group Free Press Society that claims free speech is under threat from Islam. Hedegaard escaped an attempt on his life in Copenhagen on February 5, 2013 after a man tried to shoot him. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Danish free speech advocate and critic of radical Islam, Lars Hedegaard, survived an assassination attempt by a gunman Tuesday at his Copenhagen home.
Hedegaard's partner, Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist, told TheBlaze that the young man appeared to be of Arab descent and that she and Hedegaard are certain the motives for the attack stem from the launch of their new weekly newspaper, "Dispatch International," which contains content critical of Islamic extremism.
Hedegaard was shaken but not physically injured in the attack at his apartment, where a gunman, posed as a deliveryman, rang the doorbell under the pretense that he had a package to deliver. When Hedegaard opened the front door, the man pulled out a gun and began firing.
"The bullet flew past my right ear, after which I attacked him and punched him in the face, which made him lose the gun," Hedegaard told the AP. Carlqvist said that the gunman attempted to shoot twice more but that the assailant's gun jammed each time.
"I am so happy that he was such a lousy shooter, that he missed." Carlqvist told TheBlaze. "The bullet went right beside Lars' head. It is really a miracle that Lars is alive."
Those who have followed the Islamist-led carnage surrounding Danish cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed might be familiar with Hedegaard, a journalist, scholar, and leading advocate for free speech as it relates to Islam. As president of the the Danish Free Press Society and The International Free Press Society (IFPS ), Hedegaard has consistently come under fire for refusing to capitulate to those seeking to silence voices critical of Islam's radical elements.
Hedegaard's role in the IFPS is not what Carlqvist believes is the problem, however. "He [Hedegaard] has been chairman for ten years," she told TheBlaze. "We are sure the attack has everything two do with the weekly newspaper."
At the end of 2012, the duo launched Dispatch International online, which contains articles in English, Swedish and Danish, spanning a range of topics, including Islam. The print version was just launched in January and is now due to complete its sixth installment.
"We do have a point of view critical of Islam," Carlqvist noted before stressing that the ethnicity of the shooter, who she and Hedegaard believe to be Arab, "is crucial information" that directly correlates to the attack.
She added that police have sequestered Hedegaard away to a secure location and that, for safety reasons, he may not be able to return to his apartment for an unknown period of time.
"I can't go to my house tonight either," she told TheBlaze. "If they want to shoot the Danish editor in chief, then they want to shoot the Swedish editor in chief."
Despite concerns of retribution from the Islamist-community, Carlqvist emphatically stated that she and Hedegaard are undeterred in their commitment to speak truthfully about Islam.
"We are more determined than ever with the [goals of] our newspaper," she said.
Mirroring Carlqvist's sentiments, Hedegaard was able to send TheBlaze the following statement explaining that he will, under no uncertain terms, alter his course concerning Islam.
"What was the truth yesterday remains truth today," he said.
The print edition of International Dispatch is available in Swedish only, but the subscription-based online version is available in English.
Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt called the attack "despicable" and noted that "it is even worse if the attack is rooted in an attempt to prevent Lars Hedegaard to use his freedom of expression."
Fellow free speech advocate Geert Wilders echoed the prime minister's sentiments via Twitter, stating that the attack was "terrible" and that his "thoughts are with him."
The Free Press Society said it was "shaken and angry," but "relieved that the perpetrator did not succeed."
Information concerning the attack, particularly the motives and description of the assailant have not been widely reported. Carlqvist indicated that Danish media has in fact reported that the shooter is Arab or Arab-looking, but that both Swedish and international media, perhaps for reasons of political correctness, are refraining from mentioning what they believe to be the shooter's ethnicity.
Additionally, most reports regarding the attack state that Hedegaard had been “fined 5,000 kroner ($1,000) in 2011 for making a series of insulting and degrading statements about Muslims.” The mainstream reports to date have not included, however, the fact that in 2012 the Danish Supreme Court acquitted Hedegaard of all charges, striking down his conviction 7–0.