Denmark’s artist Kurt Westergaard, infamous for drawing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which sparked outrage around the Muslim world, has died today after a prolonged-illness.
Kurt Westergaard, cursed by millions of Muslims for his infamous caricatures, passed away today after a long period of ill health, his family told Denmark’s newspaper Berlingske on Sunday.
The illustrator was behind 12 drawings published by conservative daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, one of which sparked particular anger.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is revered by Muslims and any kind of visual depiction is forbidden in Islam.
The cartoons went almost unnoticed initially, but after two weeks, a demonstration against them was held in Copenhagen and then ambassadors from Muslim countries in Denmark lodged a protest.
The anger then escalated into anti-Danish protests across the Muslim world in February 2006. Some of the demonstrations became violent. Danish and Norwegian embassies were attacked and dozens of people died.
The events led to debate about Islamophobia and the limits of freedom of expression and religion in Denmark and beyond.
In 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris, which had reprinted the cartoons in 2012.
Westergaard had been working at Jyllands-Posten since the mid-1980s as an illustrator and according to Berlingske the drawing in question had been printed once before but without sparking much controversy.
During the last years of his life Westergaard, like a number of others associated with the cartoons, had to live under police protection at a secret address.