His Muhammad cartoons plunged Denmark into a massive foreign policy crisis in 2005. Now the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has passed away, according to consistent media reports.
The Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard is dead according to consistent media reports. He died peacefully after a long illness at the age of 86, as the newspaper ‘Berlingske’ reported on Sunday, citing his family.
His caricatures sparked a foreign policy crisis
Westergaard became world famous in 2005 when a series of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the newspaper ‘Jyllands-Posten’ plunged Denmark into the biggest foreign policy crisis since World War II. Four months after publication, people in many Islamic countries used the cartoons as an opportunity for mass protests, some of which were violent. Among other things, embassies from Denmark and even Norway were attacked, and dozens of people were killed.
According to its own statements, the Danish television broadcaster TV 2 had received confirmation from the former ‘Jyllands-Posten’ editor-in-chief Carsten Juste for the death of Westergaard. The Danish public broadcaster DR also reported on Sunday, referring to a long-time friend of Westergaard.
Kurt Westergaard and the debate on freedom of expression
The so-called cartoon dispute also led to diplomatic disagreements between various Islamic countries and Denmark. In the country itself and beyond, the events led to a bitter debate about the limits of freedom of expression and religion.
Westergaard was just one of several cartoonists who had responded to an appeal by the ‘Jyllands-Posten’. But his portrayal of Muhammad met with the greatest outrage among Muslims. It showed the Prophet wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb. The studied German teacher, who had worked as a cartoonist for the conservative Danish newspaper since the 1980s, had to surround himself with bodyguards from then on. He narrowly escaped an attack in 2010 when a 28-year-old man broke into his home with an ax.