The Danish cartoonist whose caricature of Mohammed caused outrage among the world’s Muslims has died at the age of 86.
The ensuing events eventually culminated in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting.
Kurt Westergaard’s family confirmed to Berlingske newspaper that the cartoonist had died in his sleep after a lengthy illness.
It was reported by Danish media that he passed away on Wednesday, one day after his birthday.
Westergaard became globally known after his controversial caricatures of Mohammed, which first appeared in Danish publication Jyllands-Posten in 2005, when it published 12 editorial cartoons of the Muslim prophet under the heading “The Face of Mohammed.”
Weeks later, a demonstration by Muslims was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, with ambassadors from Muslim countries lodging complaints.
Following the protests, there was a surge of anger in the Muslim world, leading to further violent anti-Denmark protests in 2006.
Westergaard began receiving death threats and had to go into hiding, where he received round the clock protection.
“I would like to be remembered as the one who struck a blow for the freedom of expression. But there’s no doubt that there are some who will instead remember me as a Satan who insulted the religion of over 1 billion people,” Westergaard said, according to Berlingske.
The protests and violence surrounding his caricatures eventually lead to the 2015 terrorist attack at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in which two French Muslims forced their way into the offices and shot to death 12 people, injuring 11 others.
In a Monday editorial, Jyllands-Posten said that in the wake of Westergaard’s passing, “it is more important than ever to emphasize that the struggle for freedom of expression, which became his destiny, is the struggle of all of us for freedom.”