Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Arrests foil plot to assassinate creator of controversial cartoon

Country/Topic: Denmark
Date: 13 February 2008
Source: Cartoonists Rights Network (CRN)
Person(s): Kurt Westergaard
Target(s): editor(s) , other
Type(s) of violation(s): threatened
Urgency: Flash

(CRN/IFEX) - The following is a 12 February 2008 CRN press release:

Aarhus arrests foil plot to assassinate Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard

Danish police announced the early morning arrest of three people involved in a "terror-related assassination" plot targeting one of 12 Danish cartoonists who became notorious in September 2005. The BBC reports today that the plotters have been identified as one Danish citizen of Moroccan origin and two Tunisians.

The target of the plot was Kurt Westrergaard whose cartoon was considered the most offensive of the 12 cartoons; it featured the Prophet Mohammad wearing a head-dress with a bomb in it.

International furor erupted in early 2006 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten refused to back down from publishing the 2005 article. Demonstrators in countries from Nigeria to Indonesia took to the streets destroying Danish commercial and diplomatic interests. Over 100 deaths were linked to the protests and rioting. Death threats against the cartoonists were issued by al Qeida at the time.

In a statement to CRNI, Jyllands-Possten Cultural Affairs editor Flemming Rose, who commissioned the 12 cartoons in 2005 said, "I think the murder plot against Kurt Westergaard stresses the fact that we are in the middle of a global fight for free speech. Cartoonists, writers, politicians, comedians, women and other people are subject to 'cartoon crises' every day, and the fact that this development has reached peaceful Denmark just reinforces the point."

Through the Jyllands-Posten web site Westergaard said, "Of course, I fear for my life after the Danish Security and Intelligence Service informed me of the concrete plans of certain people to kill me. However, I have turned fear into anger and indignation." Mr. Westergaard and his wife are in protective police custody.
BBC News reports that the arrests were made in the Aarhus region of Denmark.

Rose told CRNI, "The murder plot is part of a world wide campaign by those who want to limit the right to free speech, and among them the UN Human Rights Council that last year passed a resolution calling for the criminalization of cartoons like the one made by Kurt Westergaard. This is a disgrace for the UN, and I am in loss of words to express my disgust with the UN Human Rights Council, which was supposed to stand up for human rights but instead has become an effective tool in the hands of oppressors and intimidators around the world."

CRNI condemns the actions of these alleged assassins and calls on the Danish authorities to continue to protect the lives of the other Jylland-Posten cartoonists who may now also be targeted