September 17th, 2010
01:01 PM ET

'Draw Mohammed' cartoonist goes into hiding, paper says

Muslims burn an effigy of cartoonist Molly Norris in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 26.

A cartoonist for Seattle Weekly in Washington state is in hiding after she received death threats for mocking the Prophet Mohammed five months ago, the newspaper reported.

The alternative weekly’s editor in chief reported this week that artist Molly Norris is “going ghost” on the advice of FBI security specialists. She will be moving and changing her name, Mark Fefer wrote.

“You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly,” he said. “She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program – except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab.”

Norris’ hasty exodus stems from an April controversy in which the creators of “South Park” saw their 201st episode censored over its inclusion of Mohammed as a character. Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker received death threats because their 200th episode featured the Muslim prophet in a bear suit.

Norris dedicated her cartoon that week to Stone and Parker and attacked bloggers at Revolution Muslim, who she said made threats against the “South Park” masterminds. Couching the cartoon as a First Amendment protest, she accused the Comedy Central network of cooperating with terrorists for pulling the original episode.

(Revolution Muslim's organizers told CNN in April the blog post - which said Parker and Stone would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh," the Dutch filmmaker stabbed to death after releasing a film about the oppression of Islamic women - was a call to protest, not violence.)

Norris announced that May 20 would be “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” above a cartoon of a cherry, domino, handbag, cup of coffee, spool of thread and box of pasta arguing over who was the “REAL likeness of Mohammed.”

But by the time May 19 rolled around, Norris had been overwhelmed with the attention surrounding her tongue-in-cheek proclamation. Tens of thousands of people took to Facebook to lambaste her, similar numbers jumped to her defense and Pakistan blocked access to the social-networking site until the furor subsided, according to The Big Blog, a cultural offering from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“It's been horrible,” Norris told the blog, explaining she had lost seven pounds and spent previous weeks issuing apologies and talking with national media. “I'm just trying to breathe and get through it.”

The controversy didn’t pass after the fictional holiday. On July 11, The New York Daily News reported that Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki – who has been linked to the Fort Hood massacre and the botched May 1 bombing in Times Square – called for Norris’ assassination.

In the July issue of al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, which included an article on how to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” by the AQ Chef, al-Awlaki called for Norris and others to be executed for their “blasphemous caricatures.”

“The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved,” The Daily News quoted al-Awlaki as writing.

The FBI told the newspaper the threat was serious and said it was working with the targeted individuals. On Wednesday, Seattle Weekly reported Norris had gone into hiding.

Fefer wrote that Norris likened the development to cancer: “It might be urgent and serious, it might go away and never return or it might pop up again when she least expects it.

“We’re hoping the religious bigots go into full and immediate remission, and we wish her the best.”

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anti-Islam • Islam • Pakistan • Religion • Washington state
soundoff (793 Responses)
  1. Mark Yelka

    Anyone dumb or insecure enough to believe in religion has the potential to be dangerous. Most people just participate in their religions for social reasons. I agree that it isn't good to anger a thug. But, plenty of people want to prevent the thugs from taking over the neighborhood.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Rich

    Islam is so WEAK that it has to resort to threats of murder. and killing in order to support itself. Such a false religion will end up in the dustbin of history. Wait for the 200 million strong Chinese army who will one day come to destroy Islam from the face of the earth. It is prophesied in the book of Revelation chapter 13 read it for yourself.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JackoB

    Eh, she should've known that sometimes cans of worms just ain't worth opening.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. das

    maybe she can bill Al Qaeda for extra security the way Gainesville wants to bill the church that planned the Quran burning

    September 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. woodie

    If Muslims want respect, they will have to tone down the lunacy. If the Quran says to kill non-muslims then they need to invest in erasers and fix their mistakes.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • KingTut

      By kill I am sure they mean hug. It's a translation error surely. :)

      September 17, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    It is to bad that the muslims have lost touch with their own religion. They used to depict their ancient Quran's with images of Mohammed and he was a central theme around many artistic pieces. The muslim community has let their own right wing dictate how they practice their own religion. I know the religion itself is not hateful, but where are the moderate muslims? Why are they not defending the images of Mohammed? Surely the moderates know the history of their own religion.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Manuel J.

    I want to be just like you atheist. Including the feats of Mao, Lenin.... Mao and Lenin alone were responsible for more than 50 million of the World's deaths. Yeah, I want to be just like you.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. OA

    I have read most of the posting. I can see ignorance, and hate in all of these posting. Where did you get your source of data is very important. It is very hard to convince people, especially when you hat someone. It is like when someone wants to have a divorce, he will only see the mistakes of his partner. He or she cannot see the goodies. I can debate this issue for hours with Muslims and none Muslims. However, if you read these posting, you cannot discuss anything. If claim that we like to read and we are a civilized people, why cannot we look at least for the truth and investigate? I know that someone will immediately say I know, I have read, I have investigated. I would like to say please show me all of your resources.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Todd

    You know its only a handful of skin heads that are violent. Most of them are peaceful law abiding citizens. Sound familiar

    September 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. KingTut

    Seroiusly, and all we hear about these days on sites like CNN is how peaceful and loving this religion is. Yes every religion has a fantatical and dangerous base, but like this? Did Parker and Stone have to go into witness protection program like seclusion over having Jesus in their cartoon? I have to say if there was any religion I despise it is definitely Islam. This is only going to get worse and I fear it isn't going to end well.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rich

      I agree it isn't going to end well. One day the Chinese are going to get so feed up with this religion and its terrorism, they will just decide to go ahead and wipe them out literally. Muslims need to realise their real enemy is Communist China which is an atheistic government and they don't care about human life as the Americans do. Imagine 200 million troops pouring emasse into countries such Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran even into Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States ! They will be unstoppable not even the USA with all it technology will be able to stop them. (The Chinese government way back in the 1960s boasted they could call up to 200 million reserve troops in addition to their 5 million professionals... scary...)

      September 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Midwestmatt

    Everybody should draw a picture of Mohammed just like it was done THOUSANDS of time in the past with absolutely no problem within the Muslim community.

    In fact, I just doodled a picture of Mohammed on a napkin. Waddya going to do? Kill me for doodling??

    If Islam is peaceful then it must also GROW UP and not continue with all this fatwa crap.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • KingTut

      I'm also convinced these people are bored out of their minds. Idle hands.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Miyu

    It looks like the only way to deal with this is to actually draw mohammed. They can't kill us all. I wonder what mohammed thinks about all this. If the whole earth drew him, would he destroy all of earth or just his followers? Is this like a god war? If he gets drawn does the christian god win? Is this just about offending people and mohammed doesn't care? Because I have no problem with offending people and they are offending me. I find their constant death threats very offensive. I'm suprised we don't see mohammed graffetti all over the place. Forcing what society doesn't want into their faces is how america has gotten over everything. I would think that every person that wants to commit suicide would draw mohammed. I would think that every person eagerly awaiting rapture would draw mohammed. It's not like it is a sin. The bible says not to create idols. But it is only an idol if you worship it. Anyone that worships mohammed would not be willing to worship a picture. Is a graven image an idol anyway or is any photo a graven image? Does it say don't worship or don't create graven images? We need a more literal translation of the original text please.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Manuel J.

    My comment regarding atheism is to make a point. Don't blame religion on the World's ills. Religion doesn't cause these issues, people do. It's like blaming a handgun for murdering a person.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. John

    We don't care about and will NEVER care about ISLAM, and their FALSE GOD.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. NONYC4U

    As Imam Rauf wrings his hangs complaining "why don't people love me???"

    What a horrible thing, to live in fear.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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