We mourn the loss of Kurt Westergaard

We mourn the loss of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who died on 14 July 2021, one day after his 86th birthday. Our thoughts are with his wife Gitte and his family and friends, to whom we extend our heartfelt condolences.

Kurt Westergaard received the M100 Media Award on 8 September 2010 in recognition of his unwavering commitment to freedom of speech and expression. For his courage in standing by these democratic values and defending them regardless of threats of violence and death.

J. Jakobs, K. Westergaard, A. Merkel, J. Gauck, M. van Dülmen

In his laudation, Joachim Gauck said: ” You are the person who inspires us to be courageous today, Mr. Westergaard, because COURAGE is what the jury is honouring today. But as is always the case when prizes are awarded: We praise and extol that which we find lacking in ourselves. So our delight in your visit involves various interconnected elements: a tribute to you as a person, for your courage and your love of freedom, which is expressed in your commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of the media. We thank you with the utmost sincerity, and congratulate you.
At the same time, today’s prize is an appeal to all persons who hold positions of responsibility in governments, in culture and in the media: be steadfast, value-oriented and also COURAGEOUS when irresponsible persons and powers undermine or relativise our values of freedom. It is a virtue to yield to a convincing argument, but it is cowardice to yield to a threat from enemies of freedom.”

The keynote speech was given by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said: “I’m quite sure that today’s event can give us some orientation for our topic “The Freedom of the Press in Europe”. The man you are honouring today, the Danish illustrator and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, cares deeply about freedom of opinion and of the press. For him, it’s all about whether or not he’s allowed to publish Mohammed cartoons in a newspaper in a West-ern society with all its values; regardless of whether we find his cartoons in good taste, whether or not we find them necessary and helpful. Should he be allowed to do that? Yes, he should. He’s one of many illustrators in Europe. Europe is a continent where illustrators are allowed to draw something like this. Incidentally, this isn’t contradictory to the fact that Europe is a continent where freedom of faith and religion, as well as respect for faith and religion are among our greatest goods.”

We will honour Kurt Westergaard’s memory.