The Danish editor who commissioned the Mohammed cartoons that triggered deadly protests a decade ago said Monday he was leaving the Jyllands-Posten newspaper to focus on his career as an author and political commentator.
“I want to spend more time writing books and participating in the public debate in Denmark and abroad. The growing diversity in Europe has put freedom under pressure,” Flemming Rose told the paper.
“It is a crucial debate that will determine the future of Europe,” he added.
Rose was the culture editor of the right-wing Jyllands-Posten in 2005 when he commissioned 12 satirical cartoons of the Islamic prophet, triggering deadly protests in some Muslim countries.
The cartoons were also published in 2006 in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, where Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in January.
Rose, 57, still lives under police protection because of death threats made against him, and there have been numerous foiled terror plots against Jyllands-Posten, which has had to take extensive security measures.
Jyllands-Posten was the only major Danish daily that didn't carry any illustrations from Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the Paris attacks, citing security concerns.
“Jyllands-Posten has a lot to thank Flemming for. Through all [of his] 16 years he has made an outstanding contribution,” wrote Jyllands-Posten's editor in chief, Jørn Mikkelsen.
The newspaper's decision to publish the 2005 caricatures was controversial in Denmark and many journalists criticized Rose for doing it. In March, however, the national press club awarded him a prize for “being a strong and central actor in the international debate on freedom of speech”.
Rose was similarly honoured by Norwegian free speech group Fritt Ord in August and has even been unsuccessfully nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rose, Jyllands-Posten's foreign editor since 2010, has written two books about freedom of expression in a multicultural world.