Kurt Westergaard, cartoonist behind outrageous Holy Prophet cartoons, dies

Kurt Westergaard, the man behind the offensive caricatures of the Holy Prophet dies after battling a long illness. He had been living in hiding under police protection at a secret address.

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Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard, who drew the outrageous caricatures of the Holy Prophet Muhammad dies at the age of 86. He died during sleep after a long illness. His family informed the Danish newspaper about his death on Sunday.

He was behind the 12 illustrations published in the conservative newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 under the headline ‘The Face of Islam’. One of the cartoons sparked anger and fury among Muslims worldwide as it showed Holy Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

Illustrations and visual depictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad has been forbidden in Islam out of reverence and deep respect for him among Muslims. The Cartoons had led to protests and demonstrations in Denmark and across the Muslim world in February 2006.

Danish and Norwegian embassies were attacked and dozens of people died. The demonstrations and protests opened up a debate around Islamophobia, self-censorship, and the extent of freedom of expression.

In 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack on Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris, which had reprinted the cartoons in 2012.

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The cartoonist had been working with the newspaper since the 1980s and according to a Danish newspaper, Berlingske, the cartoons had been published once before without people noticing it.

Kurt Westergaard had been living in hiding under police protection at a secret address.

Speaking to Reuters News Agency in 2008, he said he does not regret making cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. He credited his cartoons for initiating a debate on the place of Islam in western countries with secular values.

“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,” he said.

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“We are discussing the two cultures, the two religions as never before and that is important.”

In 2010, Danish Police had arrested a 28-year-old man. The man was caught with a knife in an attempt to kill him.