Reporters Without Borders is appalled by a Somali Islamist’s attempt yesterday to murder Kurt Westergaard, a Danish cartoonist who drew one of the Mohammed cartoons that caused such a controversy in 2005. Westergaard escaped unhurt but the attack could have been fatal. The press freedom organisation hopes the Danish judicial authorities will deal severely with the person responsible.
“Some Muslims may have been shocked by Westergaard’s cartoons, but there is no justification for such violence and intolerance,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Free expression must be defended against representatives of minority viewpoints who use weapons in a bid to impose terror and silence. We offer our full support to Westergaard and all the other Danish cartoonists and journalists who have been threatened.”
Armed with an axe and a knife, the Somali attacker broke into Westergaard’s home in the Danish city of Aarhus yesterday evening, but Westergaard and his granddaughter, the only other person in the house, were able to take refuge in the bathroom, which is equipped with a specially-installed reinforced door.
Summoned by telephone, the police shot and wounded the attacker when he threw his axe at one of them. He was charged today with the attempted murder of both Westergaard and the police officer.
It was Westergaard who drew the most controversial of the cartoons that were deemed to be blasphemous by some Muslims after they were published in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005. Westergaard’s cartoon showed Mohammed with a turban in the form of a bomb.
This is not the first time Westergaard has been directly targeted. In February 2008, the Danish police arrested three men on suspicion of planning an attack on him.