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. willy

    I'm drawing a picture of the Prophet (clearning my throat) bending over the rest of the world, and giving it to everyone good. Talking 'bout an ass reaming. This muslim relgion is really out of control.

    Makes me wanna go up to the next muslim, and whisper in their ear (my god boned your prophet in the back side...so there)

    Wake up America......and Europe.....the freakazoids are infiltrating you day by day...week by week...year by year....and pretty soon....you'll be owned by them.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kiros

    "We’re hoping the religious bigots go into full and immediate remission, and we wish her the best.” does that include the religious saint Molly Norris?

    September 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. merope

    How is it anyone can defend this horror called islam? What has happened to reason and decency and the knowledge that we must not defend evil?

    September 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Semper Fi don't hide

    Mohammed who.............cares. Freedom and Liberty were not a part of his teachings. So he doesn't matter. To all those who misrepresent and hide behind faith and innocents to do harm we will find you and take all that have been..... all that you are... and all that you could have ever been.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOD

    So where are all the apologists for the Koran burning Muslims? Are they not outraged at this as well? No????????????They are too busy building mosques on New York!

    September 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wacky

    what do u ppl who qoute things supposedly associated about islam and Muhammad even know about Muhammed and Islam except for the the self proclaimed experts of islam and those who have their own agend have to say...
    how many of you can say you read Muhammad: by Martin Lings...considered to be the most accurate and in depth book bout the life of the Prophet...or how many of you have talked to normal clergy of islam to explain parts of islam that seem to bother you...
    its easy to insult billions of ppl when you talk the words of ppl who have their own motives and objectives behind what they say..

    September 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      What we know about Islam is what we see and hear about nearly every day. The killing of innocent people in the most grotesque ways, threatening to kill American citizens wherever they are, tens of thousands of demonstrators screaming "Death to America". America happens to be the hope of the world, and its become quite clear that what threatens that hope is Islam.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • abuzayd

      George: "What we know about Islam is what we see and hear about nearly every day."
      that explains why there is so much bigotry and hate.. don't you know that most of the things you see and hear every day might not be accurate... i guess it's true that if you say a lie enough times to enough people they will start believing it. Islam is being targeting as a smoke screen and people like you fall for it every time.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JEM

      Catholics don't kill people who make jokes about the behavior of their
      priests around little boys

      September 17, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Charles

    I thought there wasn't a such thing as "radical/extreme Islam?" The left needs to make up their minds.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kiros

    i thought Mohammed is world GBLT leader.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dr. Anthony Hayward

    The most unintelligent thing happening is companies like CNN, Fox and other networks giving this controversy so much publicity. I'm going out on a limb here, but I imagine most "normal" people are sick and tired of reading/hearing about this that they don't care. Most Muslims are peacefull tolerant individuals, just like most Christians. The sad thing is, that the tolerant ones have no controll over the extermists on EITHER side. After growing up in a Christian home, I can honestly say that our generation would be better served if NEITHER religion existed. Waste of time, money and even sometimes life.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Here's the thing Doc. The exposure to these types of behaviors do set off the alarms to most Americans as well as it should. I'm a Catholic and proud of it. I love Jesus Christ and God himself. When hypocrites such as Bill Mauer puts a movie out and makes fun of the man who I worship gets me mad. However, I make a choice I choose not to watch it and don't choose to find some way to blow up his house or have any intentions of doing him any harm. Bill Mauer has no problems poking fun at religons such as mine, why? Because he knows there will be no physical repercussions. Now I bet you, with all of Bills dislike for religons, will not poke fun of the Muslim world.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. George

    Any ideology, political, religious, or otherwise, that does not allow freedom of expression is a danger to everyone, regardless of how tasteless that expression may be to some. All of you infidels on here who have made disparaging statements about the Islamic prophet will be in the same boat as the former Molly Norris if they find out who you are. There are obviously Muslim hit teams operating within the United States, otherwise the FBI would not have made the suggestion and given the assistance to Molly to "go ghost". Please, all Americans, demand from your congressmen an end to Muslim immigration to the U.S. as a war measure. A moderate Muslim is only moderate until he blows himself or herself up along with a bunch of your kindergarten kids. These people are worse than any Nazis ever were, and we certainly didn't allow immigration of moderate Nazis into the U.S. during WW2. Our last two presidents have told us we are at war, so lets conduct ourselves as such. Abe Lincoln would have cut off immigration from Muslim countries nine years ago.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dr. Anthony Hayward

    On a side note, the Muslims people that I have interacted with have been far more tolerant of differing beliefs than any "Christian" I have ever met. Who cares which side the Jihad started on, just knock it off and play nice. The media makes too much money to do the right thing though.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ausmadmaxx

      Where? In Saudi ?

      September 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Once the percentage of population tips to the Muslim side, all tolerance for other religions ceases.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. To Ike

    Ike, show me where in the Christian Bible it says to kill all unbelievers... Try reading the Bible first before you make any quotes about it. The Crusades were not in the Bible. You're ignorant.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Zoe

    As an American free speech being a part of life is part of who I am. It would ago against every fiber of my being to say she shouldn't be allowed to do such a thing. However, I do know that if I were to hold a contest which intentionally desecrates the most holy of figures of a religion known for violently defending their beliefs I'm likely to get punched in the face, issued a fatwa, and may be even end up dead in a ditch. So, I do think what she did was short sighted and frankly dumb. But, I think what's worse is her going into hiding. I think if you're going to make such a bold statement at least follow it through and make a point of the one good point of all of this which is freedom of speech!

    September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MuslimsROCK

    If you think offending billions of people doesnt come with consequences, just ask Ms. Norris, if you can find what rock she crawled under! LOL LOL LOL LOL!

    Respect others people....morons.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaz

      Didn't you mean..."Respect others.....or my people will kill you?" The only MuslimsRock are the one's they throw at adulterers in Iran and other "enlightened" countries.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rick McDaniel

    The Muslims keep claiming to be such nice people.......and yet, every time someone offends them, they threaten to kill.

    Somehow, I doubt their veracity.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Embarassed American

      Believe me when I say many who consider themselves "christians" are no better than the radical/extremes who consider themselves Muslims. KKK considers itself a "christain" group. In fact, most all of your American hate groups considers themselves "christians" and God's chosen people.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
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