The newspaper editor who commissioned the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked international protests was late Thursday awarded a prize by Denmark's national press club.
Flemming Rose was the culture editor of daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 when he published 12 satirical cartoons of the Islamic prophet, triggering deadly protests in some Muslim countries.
The cartoons were also published in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, where Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in January.
“For me, the debate I was drawn into almost 10 years ago by chance… is about tolerance and freedom,” Rose said in a speech at the awards ceremony.
The decision by the right-leaning Jyllands-Posten to publish the caricatures was controversial in Denmark and many journalists criticized Rose for doing it.
“I see this as a sign that the debate in Denmark has shifted, but naturally also that the reality has changed,” Rose told his own paper.
The Danish press club gave him its annual Publicistpris prize for “being a strong and central actor in the international debate about freedom of speech.”
Rose, 57, still lives under police protection because of death threats made against him. He currently serves as Jyllands-Posten's foreign editor.
Last month, Rose was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian MP who called the Dane “a consistent defender of freedom of expression, even at a personal cost”.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who whipped up outrage across the Muslim world with his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, was last week given a prize by a Danish free speech group viewed by some as being Islamophobic.
Vilks last month escaped an attempt on his life when he attended a debate on free speech.
A Dane of Palestinian origin fired a series of shots outside the Copenhagen cultural centre that was hosting the event, killing a filmmaker.
The gunman later shot dead a Jewish man outside a synagogue before he was killed by police.