Axe-wielding jihadist invades Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home was invaded by an axe- and knife-wielding Somali jihadist with ties to al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda, forcing Westergaard into the panic room he had installed in anticipation of just such an attack.

Kurt Westergaard
Jan 01, 2010
Organized Jihadists
Also Known As:
Kurt Vestergaard
Attempted Murder
Accused of:
Cartoonist, psychology teacher
Known For:

his extremely controversial caricature of the Prophet Muhammad and his subsequent life in hiding and under police protection; being awarded the Sappho Award by the Danish Free Press Society and the M100 Media Award by German Chancellor Angel Merkel for his contributions to freedom of speech and belief

Family Members:

Gitte Westergaard (wife), Stephanie (granddaughter)

On New Year's Day in 2010, Kurt Westergaard, artist of some of the controversial Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, was in his home in Denmark with his five-year-old granddaughter when a 28-year-old jihadist broke in. Wielding an axe and a knife, he screamed for "blood" and "revenge"—revenge, no doubt, for the cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad Westergaard had drawn, which were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Kurt and his granddaughter had to lock themselves in a safe room.

"My grandchild did fine. It was scary. It was close. Really close. But we did it." - Kurt Westergaard on the attack

Ever since having published the cartoon of the Prophet in 2005—which depicted the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban—Westergaard had lived under "tight security" due to the threat to his life. However, that still did not stop this attempted murder.

The encounter ended with police shooting the assailant in an arm and a leg and taking him into custody; he was eventually sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. Westergaard went into hiding after the attack. In a statement after the incident, the Danish Muslim Union condemned the attack.

Westergaard stated that he had "no regrets" about publishing the cartoon, maintaining that it was important for the international conversation about Islam and freedom of expression it helped trigger (along with several other Muhammad cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten in 2005). Were he able to do it again, he said, he would.

"You can’t suppress or prevent journalists, intellectuals and creative people from using freedom of speech." - Kurt Westergaard

On July 14, 2021, Westergaard died at the age of 86.

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