Danish cartoonist attacked

Danish police shot and wounded a man who attacked Kurt Westergaard, whose cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad sparked an international row.

The assailant entered Westergaard’s house with an axe and a knife, shouting that he wanted to kill Westergaard.

After the 2005 Danish cartoons were published Westergaard first went into hiding and then moved into a reinforced house because of death threats from Islamic radicals.

Also in the house with Westergaard was his 5 year old grand daughter. The two escaped to a reinforced safety room and activated the house alarm.

The attacker was identified as a Somali member of al-Shabab. He was shot by police when he ran out of the house and attacked the police.

The cartoons by Westergaard and other Danish cartoonist whipped up a global furor from Islamic groups and governments. Death threats against the cartoonists and violence against the newspaper that published the cartoons ensued for several months.

At the time most international journalism groups backed the cartoonists’ freedom of speech. Some hedged their bets when they condemned the actions of the radicals against the cartoonists but said the cartoonists should have exhibited “more sensitivity.”

Westergaard came out of hiding earlier last year. He told the BBC that freedom of expression is vital and claimed the right to mock any organization. He also said that this right does not detract from his belief that freedom of religion is also a vital right.

Just 18 months ago, three men were arrested for plotting to attack Westergaard.

For some background on this issue go to: The Cartoon Crisis – how it unfolded

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Filed under Censorship, International News Coverage, Middle East, Press Freedom

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