Cartoonist Whose Depiction Of Prophet Muhammad Sparked Outrage Dies At 86
Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose image of the Prophet Muhammad sparked anger that led to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, has died.
Westergaard died after suffering from a long illness, with his family telling the Berlingske newspaper that he passed away in his sleep.
The cartoonist was responsible for 12 drawings inside the conservative daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten under the headline ‘The Face of Muhammad’. This led to significant backlash from Muslims, who do not believe the prophet Muhammad should be depicted.
Anti-Danish violence began to occur in February 2006, and ambassadors of Muslim-majority countries sent official complaints to Denmark.
The weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted the images by the cartoonist in 2012. This once again caused uproar, culminating in the 2015 massacre that left 12 people dead at the magazine’s offices in Paris.
The cartoonist also faced threats to his own life. In 2008, the Danish intelligence service announced that they had arrested three people who were planning to murder Westergaard.
Additionally, in 2010 a 28-year-old Somalian, Mohamed Geele, was found at his house armed with a knife, and was planning on killing the cartoonist. Geele was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2011.
Discussing his cartoons in 2008, Westergaard told Reuters that he had no regrets:
I would do it the same way (again) because I think that this cartoon crisis in a way is a catalyst which is intensifying the adaptation of Islam.
We are discussing the two cultures, the two religions as never before and that is important.
When protests against his work became violent, Westergaard went into hiding before settling in a heavily fortified house in Aarhus, Denmark. In his later years, the cartoonist had to live with a bodyguard at secret addresses.
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