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. kiros

    I am Tired of the mainstream media, Muslim gangsters, and tea baggers terrorizing our citizens.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Xchange

    Muhammad was the anti Christ and Islam is his followers.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. oblahma

    they should make mohammed toilet paper

    September 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aztecwarrior

    The test of democracy is freedom of criticism. ~David Ben-Gurion

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

      this isnt about freedom of one is saying its against the law to do what she did...its just ignorant and STUPID. Look at her now....just because you can do something doesnt mean you should. Its simple people respect others and their beliefs, dont go OUT OF YOUR WAY to insult billions of people, and you wont find a small radical fraction of such people trying to saw your head off...NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

      September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Kabba

    If the stone in the Kabba was holy to the pagans of Saudi Arabia before Islam why is it still considered a holy Muslim relic? The name of the pagan moon god before Islam was also "Allah". Something to think about...

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

      lol ... Um the Kabba is also holy to Jews as well...since it was Abraham who with his son who built the well if you read the Bible in Aramaic the word for god is know ur history before speaking...
      btw if you read the old testament in Hebrew in the Song of Soloman 5:16 Muhammed is mentioned by name as the coming prophet...

      September 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • abuzayd

      The kabba was built by prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail(pbut), and the black stone is a stone from heaven brought by the angel Jibrail, the stone itself is not worshipped. After some time the people of mecca fell into paganism and started worshipping idols, Muhammad(pbuh) brought them back to the original monotheism of Ibrahim(pbuh). Allah is the arabic word for God, the christian arabs have the word Allah in their bibles.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      I am sorry where is the evidence for all you say.. that Abraham built it, Its from Heaven?? Really where is heaven? Can you please tell me the location

      September 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RLR

    The stupid idiot! She should have know better. Sometimes freedom of speech/expression should be exercised cautiously. America needs to stop pushing it's luck before we get blown to kingdom come, and then we'll want the rest of world to feel sorry for us. The truth is, we brought 9/11 on ourselves (Bush & Cheney) by telling lies about WMD, invading Iraq and killing thousands of its citizens and our own young U.S. men/women in the military, and supporting Israel and it's terrorism of the Palestinians. All we need to do is get our troops out of Iraq/Afghanistan (and other countries where we don't need to be), and the Saudi penisula and stop supporting Israel.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMNOP

      I got one word for you- p u s s i e

      September 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tired

    Why do most of these comment focus on Christianity vs. Islam? Does one really have to be correct? People disagree with religions that are not their own, if they didn't, there would only be one religion. Historically, anyone could find facts to fit "their" reality, because that is what much historiography is, utilizing events of the past to prove a statement. People have disagreed with Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad at different eras in history, it is how they choose to disagree, and show that disagreement that defines that person, not their individual religion. Islam and Christianity share many aspects, including parts of their holy books. Both have followers that completely disagree with the other. We can disagree with actions, but to generalize the activities of a large group of people because they follow the same religion as those who make ignorant decisions, perpetuates the chaos that is continuously monopolizing our media.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brickell Princess

    I wonder how much panic I will create with my digital drawing, see bellow, of Mohammed:

    >O O<

    September 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. T

    I suppose the protesters in the picture survived the floods huh? How much more catastrophy the muslims should face as a result of their sins before they can come to their senses?

    September 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    I hope American Muslims rally around religious freedom on this.. Even though they may disagree with what the cartoonist said!! freedom of Expression!

    September 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • wacky

      i agree with you...but lets also rally against Britian then...for taking down an ad with a pregnent nun eating ice cream that would offend the pope when he came to visit this week...

      September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kiros

    Achmed the Dead Terrorist is the only Moderate Muslim i know.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mark kali

    I rub all my cash money with a little raw bacon every day.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Embarassed American

    Each time I've been at some American event where there was a Muslim(s) present and a Christian prayer was prayed, those Muslims respectfully folded their hands in front of them and bowed their heads although they worship a different religion. Why can't America show the same respect for their religion? By trying to demean another's faith, Americans are actually demeaning and shaming the Christian religion. Whatever this cartoonists efforts, to incite a people–get some kind of negative reaction to show them in a violent light, it's backfiring. People are being turned off from the Christian religionk and instead are beginning to see it as a more intolerant religion. While the Muslim religion are gaining more and more followers everyday, the Christian religion is diminishing. Would individuals of the Christian faith tolerate someone showing Jesus Christ in an comical/demeaning way? I remember a travel Easter play group who had to leave town a few years back when it was the turn of one of their black actors to play the role of Jesus Christ being crucified. It darn near caused a riot. The actors and actresses received death threats and had to pack up and leave. No! This was not some un or underdeveloped country with uneducated and primitive people where this happened. This took place right on American soil in 20TH/21ST Century America. All because people didn't want to see a black man playing the role of Jesus Christ. Therefore America, are you any better when put to the test? Or are you just hypocrits?

    September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Johnson

      Hey, you can certainly take a flight over there and move in with them. No one's stopping you. Quit making STUPID comments like, 'most americans' have no clue what MOST AMERICANS think, you simply have the opinion of what you read that is put out by the media, you have no clue what MOST AMERICANS think.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Johnson

      And yes......if you were up with the times, you would see that South Park REGULARLY has Jesus on their show. He is on a hotline taking calls, they have him saying, 'jesus christ!', heck, he even fights Santa Claus......MOST AMERICANS have seen this and could care less...FREEDOM OF SPEECH allows us to do that, and most folks are old enough to know, it's simply comedy, not to take it serious and act like an out of control crackhead and start killing people for what was shown. GROW UP, catch up with the times, and then come back with something, better then this.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • you can be embarassed for yourself not for everyone else

      Why do you say that if an American insults Islam then "Americans are actually demeaning and shaming the Christian religion"? Not every American is either Christian or Islam, there are other faiths and philosophies here. One can insult Islam and have no affiliation to any Christian religion or even have affiliation only to one of the hundreds of different Christian religions (they aren't all identical after all). Anyway, unless an individual is either the representative leader for a group of people or the most prominent, visible, exemplary, and popular member of a group, I would say that an individual's actions only reflect on themselves not on the other members.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris

    Hey, how about a few hundred of us changing our names to "Molly Norris", and then just waiting with loaded guns for the crazies to show?

    September 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Weary_but_ready

    f the Bible specifically read something like this, "Christians should kill non-believers if they don't convert after you ask them to convert," then Christians would have a problem similar to the one that moderate Muslims have. The Muslim moderates do not stand up in her defense because they don't want to go against the Quran which says the cartoonist and all non-believers must be killed. The problem with the Muslim religion is that its holy book is too specific about violence against non-believers. As a result, the moderates have little to stand on and don't want to go against their fellow Muslims when they know their fellow Muslims will quote sections of the Quran that the moderates would have to publicly say they disagree with. Doing that would cause a crises of belief for the moderates. Religion is $ H I T, especially the Muslim religion.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Embarassed American

      The Christian Bible does advise to kill all non-believers who refuse to convert. It may not use the same language as the Qu'ran, but nevertheless, the words are similar. Not only that, according to the Old Testament, you can kill your disobedient child and even your wife. Notice, America's Christians always claim to no longter go by the Old Testament. That is until there's a war to be fought. Then the Old Testament is the first place they look for approval from God.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miyu

      What if the bible said to go into a foreign land kill all the inhabitants; man, woman and child. What if it said that the israelites were not to assimilate with the peoples off that land but had to nkill every man, woman and children?

      September 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Miyu

      What if the burning bush told moses that when the israelites entered the promised land they were not to assimilate and had to kill every man, woman and child? And what if that was in the torah, directly translated from hebrew, where the church did not have the opportunity to take their eraser to it and that was sold at barnes and nobles? What if they had done that? Would there be no islam? Would they have killed the ancestors of mohammed? If god knew that there would be a mohammed then he would have known that the israelites would fail to kill everyone. Or does islam exist as a result of them trying to kill everyone?

      September 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
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