The return of Westergaard....
Some new cartoons from the Danish caricaturist who drew one of the Mohammed cartoons...
Kurt Westergaard, the Danish caricaturist forced into hiding after the publication of his depiction of the prophet Muhammed in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, is set to return with a new set of potentially controversial drawings.
According to a report in the Copenhagen Post, Westergaard is expected to have 26 illustrations in a new book that compiles the sardonic columns by Danish writer Lars Hedegaard for the Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
The paper writes that one of the drawings in the book features former Danish foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, who spoke out against the original Muhammed cartoons, kneeling with an inkwell that reads "freedom of expression." A black-bearded man with a bomb in his turban is peering out of the inkwell. Writer Hedegaard told the paper there was "no intention to depict the so-called prophet," but that people could always interpret drawings in different ways. He said he expected no backlash as a result of the publication.
Westergaard, 73, was forced to go into hiding under protection from the official state secret service agency and had to live in safe houses after a plot to kill him was uncovered. Last summer he returned home, though he still remains under protection.
Comparisons had been drawn between his situation and that of Dutch populist politician Geert Wilders, whose critisism of Islam also led to death threats and constant police protection. When Wilders used the Danish's drawing in his anti-Islam film Fitna this March, however, Westergaard filed for an injunction to force Wilders to take the picture out of the film. The cartoonist said that he did not want the cartoon to be used against Muslim society as a whole. He also responded by drawing Wilders with a bomb in his trademark peroxide blond hair and a sign saying: Danger! Freedom of expression. Wilders did replace the Muhammed cartoon in a second version of his film.
The cartoonist has repeatedly stated that he has no regrets about drawing the original caricature for Jyllands-Posten. In an interview last spring Westergaard also said that he is not anti-Muslim: "I know a lot of Muslims living here in Denmark who accept democracy completely and who live their religion as a very private matter. I hope that all Muslims will adapt to secular society. There is currently friction between Muslim and Christian culture. But I am quite sure that our Western Democratic culture will prevail over the darker version of Islam. We must have Islam-light."
Responding to the protests and deadly riots the caricatures sparked in the Muslim world, Westergaard said: "If it hadn't been the cartoon, it would have been a book or play or a film that would have provoked the protests. We have to get through this period of friction between the two cultures. I hope that our Muslim fellow citizens will understand what it means to live in a democracy. Even if you are against the democracy, you can still live there, but you must fight with peaceful means."
One of the two Tunisian born-men arrested in February for plotting to kill Westergaard remains in Denmark because he faces torture should he be deported to Tunisia. Over the weekend, though, the government in Copenhagen agreed to transfer him from Aarhus, where Westergaard lives, to Sandholm Asylum Centre north of Copenhagen. The suspect will be able to move freely in and out of the facility, but he must be in daily contact with the police. The Copenhagen Post reported that Westergaard was happy about the transfer.