Saturday, January 02, 2010

The terrorist attack on Kurt Westergaard

Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists whose satirical drawings of the Prophet Mohammed touched off the international cartoon wars that began in 2006 and have not ended, was attacked in his home by an ax-wielding Islamist fanatic from Somalia who tried unsuccessfully to kill him. BBC News reports:
A Somali man has been charged with trying to kill a Danish artist whose drawing of the Prophet Mohammed sparked riots around the world.

The suspect, who was shot by police outside cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's home in the city of Aarhus on Friday, was carried into court on a stretcher.

Police say he broke into the house armed with an axe and a knife. [....]

The radical al-Shabab group in Somalia hailed the attack.

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Muhamud Rage told AFP news agency: "We appreciate the incident in which a Muslim Somali boy attacked the devil who abused our prophet Mohammed and we call upon all Muslims around the world to target the people like" him. [....]

Police say the 28-year-old suspect broke into Mr Westergaard's home and shouted in broken English that he wanted to kill him. He is also alleged to have attacked police with an axe when they arrived at the scene.

The 74-year-old cartoonist, who was in the house with his five-year-old granddaughter, raised the alarm from a specially designed panic room. [....]

Mr Westergaard went into hiding amid threats to his life, but emerged last year saying he wanted to live as normal a life as possible.

His house has been heavily fortified and is under close police protection.

Islamic militants have placed a $1m (£620,000) price on Mr Westergaard's head.

Although he is one of 12 cartoonists whose drawings of the Prophet Muhammad were published in Jyllands-Posten, he has had the highest profile.
According to Bloomberg News: "In 2008, three other men were arrested for plotting to kill Westergaard."

=> As Andrew Sullivan correctly says, there is only one appropriate "response to this disgusting act of terror:" to unequivocally reaffirm the principle of freedom of expression when it is under attack, and to show solidarity with Westergaard as a victim of censorship-by-terrorist-intimidation, by re-posting the original Danish cartoons. (See below ... and, if you want more detail, the first cartoon reproduced here was Kurt Westergaard's.)

--Jeff Weintraub