Kurt Westergaard worked for many years as a teacher for German, English and Arts. Only when he turned 50, he began to draw cartoons professionally. Today, the 75-years-old is drawing for the Danish daily Jyllandsposten. On 30 September 2005, the newspaper published twelve cartoons of the prophet Mohamed. Westergaard’s cartoon showed the prophet with a bomb in his turban. Several months later, partly violent protests went around the world. More than 50 people died during the numerous riots. Several Muslim countries called for a penalty for Westergaard, whose drawings particularly provoked them. A fierce debate on freedom of opinion on the one hand and respect for religious beliefs on the other hand began shortly afterwards. Despite public death threats, Westergaard was the only cartoonist who publicly defended his right of freedom of opinion and refused to apologize. Because of this, he is protected by the police since late 2007. 2008 the police arrested several men in Århus who apparently wanted to kill Westergaard. Most recently, Westergaard could escape an attempted assassination in his own house on New Year’s Eve 2010. “It is absurd that you have to fear for your life in your own house, your own country only because you as a cartoonist have an own opinion others do not agree with”, says Westergaard. In May 2012, he distanced from the use of his Mohammed cartoons and his name by the right-winged German party “Pro NRW”: “My cartoon was a commentary on freedom of expression, and one should only link me with freedom of expression.” Kurt Westergaard passed away on 14 July, 2021.
Awards: – September 2010: M100-Media-Prize, awarded by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel for his contributions to the freedom of the press and expression