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Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who created the Muhammad caricature, died at the age of 86.

Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist whose depiction of Muhammad infuriated many Muslims across the world, died at the age of 86.

His relatives claimed he died after a protracted illness, according to the Berlingske daily.

From the early 1980s, Westergaard worked as a cartoonist for the conservative Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

His provocative portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in the newspaper made him renowned across the world in 2005.

The journal published Westergaard’s cartoon, which depicted a turban bomb, as one of 12 to make a point about self-censorship and criticism of Islam.

In Islam, depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are usually considered forbidden and insulting to some Muslims.

The drawings in the newspaper sparked outrage in Denmark, and the government received objections from diplomats from Muslim-majority nations.

In February 2006, protests erupted across the Muslim world as a result of the outrage. Several Danish embassies were assaulted, and scores of people were killed in rioting.

 

The drawings’ release has left an indelible mark. An attack on the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published the drawings, killed 12 people in 2015.

Westergaard got several death threats and was the subject of murder attempts after the drawings were published.

He went into hiding at first but then opted to live openly in Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, in a strongly secured residence.

In 2008, the Danish intelligence service reported the arrest of three persons accused of plotting Westergaard’s assassination.

 

Two years later, a 28-year-old Somali armed with a knife was apprehended at Westergaard’s home by Danish police. Mohamed Geele, 29, was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of attempted murder and terrorism.

In his later years, Westergaard had to live with a bodyguard at hidden residences.

In an interview with Reuters in 2008, Westergaard stated that he had no remorse about his satirical drawing.

He said that the caricature had sparked a “vital” debate on Islam’s place in secular Western democracies.

 

“I would do it the same way (again) because I believe that this cartoon problem is, in some ways, a trigger for Islam’s adaptation,” he added.

 

“We’re talking about the two cultures and faiths as we’ve never talked about them before, and that’s essential.”