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Danish Muhammad cartoonist Kurt Westergaard dies at age 86

Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed enraged many Muslims around the world, has died at the age of 86.

He died after a long illness, his family told the Berlingske newspaper on Sunday.

Westergaard began working as a cartoonist for the conservative newspaper Jyllands-Posten in the early 1980s.

He became world-famous in 2005 for his controversial depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in the newspaper.

He was behind one of the most controversial of the 12 cartoons the newspaper published to reflect on self-censorship and criticism of Islam. The cartoon shows the Prophet wearing a hijab in the shape of a bomb.

The image of the Prophet Muhammad is taboo in Islamic tradition and many Muslims found the cartoon extreme and deliberately offensive.

The cartoon sparked protests in Denmark and throughout the Muslim world. The Danish embassy was attacked and dozens of people were killed in the riots that followed.

The publication of the cartoons left a lasting impression. In 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack by Islamist militants on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie’s, which had published the cartoons.

Westergaard also received several death threats and was the target of assassination attempts. He initially went into hiding and then decided to live openly in a heavily guarded house.

In 2008, Danish authorities charged three people with planning Westergaard’s murder. Two years later, they caught a man who had broken into his house with a knife. Mohamed Gilles was subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison for attempted murder and terrorism.

In his later years, Westergaard had to live at a secret address with his bodyguards.

In an interview with Reuters in 2008, Westergaard said he did not regret his drawing.

He said the cartoon had sparked an “important” debate about the place of Islam in Western countries with secular values.

“I would do it (again) in the same way because I think this cartoon crisis has been in some ways a catalyst that has increased the accommodation with Islam,” he said.

“We are talking about two cultures, two religions, like never before, and that is important.”

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