Danish Mohammad cartoonist rejects censorship

VIENNA Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:06am EDT

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose drawings of Mohammed offended Muslims worldwide, delivers his acceptance speech after receiving the M100 media prize during the award ceremony in Potsdam, September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Odd Andersen/Pool

Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose drawings of Mohammed offended Muslims worldwide, delivers his acceptance speech after receiving the M100 media prize during the award ceremony in Potsdam, September 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Odd Andersen/Pool

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The Danish cartoonist who outraged Muslims with a drawing of the Prophet Mohammad seven years ago has said the West cannot let itself be muzzled by fear of offending Islamic sensibilities.

Kurt Westergaard, whose lampoon of Mohammad in the Jyllands-Posten paper nearly got him killed by an axe-wielding assassin in 2010, told Austrian magazine News he had no regrets about his work and said freedom of speech was too precious to relinquish.

"Should we in future let ourselves be censored by Islamic authorities in deeply undemocratic countries? Should they be allowed to tell the German chancellor in future whom she should honor and whom not? Are we really this far along?" he asked, referring to Angela Merkel's citation of his work.

For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous and caricatures or other characterizations have provoked protests across the Muslim world - most recently after the denigration of Mohammad in an amateurish film trailer concocted by anti-Islamic campaigners in the United States.

Westergaard, 77, said he still lives in constant fear of another attempt on his life. His home has become a "fortress" with a police station in the back yard and bodyguards who ferry him and his wife around in the back seat of an armored car.

"I can't even go shopping or sit in a cafe," the cartoonist said in the interview published on Thursday.

Westergaard said cartoons poking fun at Muslims could signal that Western cultures saw them as part of society. "But we don't understand one another," he added.

That was because "we have long found ourselves in a culture war" raging not just between the West and the Middle East but directly in Western societies where he said many Muslims seem not to understand or respect democracy and freedom of speech.

He said cartoonists could not hold back in their efforts to spotlight issues in a pointed way.

"It is already bad enough when people like politicians or journalists who work with words no longer prefer to say and write things that are obvious. We have got used to that, but fortunately not yet to (the idea) that bans on drawings also prevail in the meantime."

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (7)
breezinthru wrote:
A voice of truth and reason. I laud your courage Mr. Westergaard and I regret your loss of freedom.

Sep 20, 2012 6:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
boreal wrote:
The courageous Mr. Westergaard: “Should we in future let ourselves be censored by Islamic authorities in deeply undemocratic countries?…..”

Mr. Westergaard, you deserve hats off for your courage, for standing up to be counted as you are selflessly sacrificing so much for freedom. However, it seems from your statement you may not be aware of it, there is problem in paradise. I am afraid I got some disturbing news for you. Censorship – against which you so selflessly are fighting – indeed does already exists in the democratic west. There is a cow, A.K.A. golden calf elevated to sainthood that cannot be touched, poked or otherwise even looked at it without specially designed rosy colored sunglasses. Its name – I don’t know if I should dare to say it out audibly loud or just whisper it – is called H o l o c a u s t.

Sep 20, 2012 9:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Blackkawi wrote:
Attack on black people, called “Racism”,

Attack on Jewish people, called
“Anti-semetism”,
Attack on Women, called “Gender discrimination”,

Attack on Homosexuality, called “Intolerance”,

Attack on a Country, called “Terrorism”,

Attack on Religious sect, called “Hated speech”,

But , at the dignity of our Prophet MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.W)
They call it “Freedom of Expression”

Sep 20, 2012 12:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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