COPENHAGEN: Lars Hedegaard, a prominent Danish writer who heads a controversial group that claims free speech is under threat from Islam, escaped an attempt on his life in Copenhagen on Tuesday, his group said.
"Today at 11:21 am (1021 GMT) a shot was fired against a person in (the district of) Frederiksberg," Copenhagen police said in a statement.
"The victim was fortunately not affected. The perpetrator fled the scene after his gun clicked when making another two attempts to fire it," it said.
Hedegaard, a well-known historian in Denmark, is the president of the country's Free Press Society, an organisation that claims free speech is "being threatened, primarily by religious and ideological interests and international pressure groups".
The chairman of the society's Swedish arm, Ingrid Carlqvist, confirmed that 70-year-old Hedegaard was the target of the attack, which she said took place outside his home.
"It's a miracle that he's alive," she said.
Carlqvist had spoken to Hedegaard minutes after the incident since they were due to meet later in the day.
A man aged between 20 and 25 "with Arab appearance" had called Hedegaard on his intercom phone, purporting to have a package for him. The man was wearing a jacket with the Danish postal service's logo emblazoned on it, she said.
When Hedegaard came down to open the door the man aimed the gun at his head, but the shot missed.
"I attacked him and hit him on the head," Hedegaard told the daily Politiken.
When the man pulled the trigger a second time the gun jammed, a struggle then ensued and the attacker ran away from the scene, Carlqvist said.
"We view Islam as a totalitarian ideology that is a threat to our way of living," she said, adding that the Free Press Society "won't be silenced".
The society has in the past defended the authors of the controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed, which were first published in a Danish daily in 2005 and sparked violent protests in the Muslim world.