Associated Press JARI TANNER
HELSINKI (AP) – Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose image of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb as a turban was at the center of widespread anti-Danish anger in the Muslim world in the mid-2000s, has died. He was 86 years old.
Westergaard’s family announced his death to Danish media late on Sunday and told the Berlingske newspaper that Westergaard died in his sleep after a long period of illness. Danish media reported that he died on July 14, a day after his birthday.
Since the early 1980s Westergaard worked as a cartoonist for Jyllands-Posten, one of Denmark’s leading newspapers, and was associated with the daily until he was 75.
Westergaard became known worldwide in 2005 for his controversial portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in the Jyllands-Posten, which published 12 editorial caricatures of the leading figure in Islam.
Muslims consider the images of the prophet to be sacrilegious and encourage idolatry. The images, especially those of Westergaard, sparked a huge wave of anger in the Muslim world and turned into violent anti-Denmark protests by Muslims around the world in 2006.
Several newspapers in neighboring Norway also published the controversial cartoons. The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria were torched by angry crowds during the protests.
Nordic political observers have described the cartoon incident as one of the most serious foreign policy crises for Denmark and Norway in their recent stories.