Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose 2005 caricature of the Prophet Muhammad carrying a bomb-shaped turban touched off violent protests by Muslims, prompted a bloodbath that left 12 individuals useless on the places of work of a French satirical journal and made him a goal of assassins for the remainder of his life, died on Wednesday in Copenhagen. He was 86.
His household introduced his loss of life to Danish media on Sunday. No particular trigger was given.
Mr. Westergaard was one in all 12 artists commissioned by Jyllands-Posten, a self-described center-right newspaper in Denmark, to attract Muhammad “as you see him.” The newspaper stated “the Muhammad cartoons,” as they got here to be recognized — though some depicted different figures — weren’t supposed to be offensive however fairly to lift questions on self-censorship and the bounds to criticism of Islam.
Mr. Westergaard stated that when he drew his cartoon he was looking for to underscore his view that some individuals invoked the prophet to justify wanton violence. He later defined that the bearded man he had depicted, with a lit fuse protruding from his turban, may have been any Islamic fundamentalist — not essentially the founding father of Islam.
Nonetheless, many Muslims had been outraged as a result of they imagine that any photographs of the prophet, a lot much less one provocatively linked to terrorism, are thought-about blasphemous.
In 2006, Danish embassies within the Arab world had been attacked in riots that claimed dozens of lives. In 2008, three individuals had been charged by the Danish authorities with threatening to homicide Mr. Westergaard. Two years later, a Somali Muslim intruder armed with an ax and a knife penetrated the cartoonist’s dwelling in Aarhus, although it was outfitted with metal doorways, bulletproof glass and surveillance cameras.
On the time, Mr. Westergaard and his 5-year-old granddaughter had been cowering in a fortified toilet. The intruder was shot by the police and later convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and deportation.
In 2015, three Islamic militants stormed the Paris workplace of the journal Charlie Hebdo, which had reprinted the cartoons, and killed 12 individuals, most of them employees members.
In an interview with The Nationwide Put up of Denmark in 2009, Mr. Westergaard expressed disappointment on the response to his cartoon by many newcomers to his nation.
“Lots of the immigrants who got here to Denmark, that they had nothing,” he stated. “We gave them every part — cash, flats, their very own colleges, free college, well being care. In return, we requested one factor — respect for democratic values, together with free speech. Do they agree? That is my easy take a look at.”
He was born Kurt Vestergaard on July 13, 1935, in Jutland, Denmark, the peninsula flanked by the North and Baltic Seas. His dad and mom ran a grocery retailer.
Raised in a conservative Christian household, he skilled what he described as a spiritual liberation as a highschool pupil. He later enrolled on the College of Copenhagen to check psychology after which taught German and labored in a faculty for disabled college students in Djursland. Fellow journalists stated that he had all the time needed to be an illustrator. He labored briefly for the newspaper Den Ny Demokrat, then joined Jyllands-Posten in 1983. He retired in 2010, when he was 75.
His survivors embody his spouse, Gitte; their 5 youngsters; 10 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
In 2008, Mr. Westergaard received the Sappho Award from the Free Press Society of Denmark. In 2010, he obtained the M100 Media Award from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for his contributions to freedom of opinion.
“I need to be remembered because the one who struck a blow totally free speech,” he as soon as stated. “However there isn’t a doubt that others will as an alternative bear in mind me as a Devil who insulted the faith of a billion individuals.”
Mr. Westergaard and his spouse lived below tight safety after the authorities foiled the primary assassination try in opposition to him, though it was troublesome to cover a person so typically nattily attired in crimson trousers, a broad-brimmed black hat and giraffe-headed strolling stick.
Lately he selected to reside brazenly in Aarhus, with bodyguards.
“I don’t see myself as a very courageous man,” he informed The Guardian in 2010, including: “However on this scenario I bought offended. It isn’t proper that you’re threatened in your individual nation only for doing all your job. That’s an absurdity that I’ve really benefited from, as a result of it grants me a sure defiance and stubbornness. I received’t stand for it. And that actually reduces the concern an amazing deal.”
Jasmina Nielsen contributed reporting.