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. rockyrooster

    My fear is that this will only get worse with time. I sure hope that the so called moderates step up to the plate.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • goatlover

      there are no moderates.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Jim

    Hitler had the right idea just chose the wrong people. Round em up and start gassing them. Here and abroad

    September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sansculotte

      Big Jim apparently has a little brain.
      Run off to Walmart now and get a 12-pak of Bud-lite.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion

    This is absolute RUBBISH!!! WE SHALL NOT HIDE FROM TERRORIST... WE SHALL NOT COWER FROM THEIR THREATS!!! Any and all depictions of Mohammed should be exactly what they are... DEPICTIONS... Does not mean thats who he is... they need to get over their CRAP... and GTFO, or go back to being illiterate!!!! that'd be great!

    September 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. moe hommad

    prophet muhammed is a fake a hole anyway.

    September 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    There goes that religion of peace and tolerance again. Sure, sure, it's only the work of a few 'fanatics', support of course by 1.5 billion Muslims.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      And the sick display around the bonfire above has yet to be condemned by a single muslim on this or any other forum. So it's not JUST the extremists as some of you deluded contributors want to think it is.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joe billington

    this isn't right, people shouldn't be afraid to speak their minds. What happened to freedom of speech, that means nothing now. I guess the terrorists won...........

    September 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ninja

    WHAT THE ****? THIS AMERICA WHERE THERE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH! IF THE MUSLIMS ARE ALLOWED TO GROW here in the U.S. These type of threats will keep coming!


    September 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fred Flintstoned

    And that, my friends, is why we must fight for the freedom to remain anonymous on the Internet.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      Fred – note my interchange with MuslimsSUCK above. This muslim supporter or muslim jumped on me when I anonymously drew a character pix of mohamed, essentially calling me out to give my name/address. Again, this seems to be a typical muslim reaction – attacking me rather than saying anything negative about the human feces reaction by many in the muslim world. Again, a point made by MuslimsSUCK about what it is to be a muslim; forget about trying to be human. That will have to wait a few centuries, I guess.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. blue

    Isn't anyone else getting tired of this crap? Come to my street and start yelling about what I should or shouldn't, or can or can't believe, and I assure you it will be the last thing you ever do. Feel strongly about Islam? THEN GO BACK TO THE MIDDLE EAST. I don't believe in God. I don't believe in religion. I never will. I respect you right to religion, but I am losing patience with your expectations, and I'm beginning to lose patience AND respect for said religion. If you think you're going to get ME to bend to your religions ways, you are sadly, sadly mistaken. Try it, I dare you. 🙂

    September 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Josh

    This is ridiculous they burn american flags and it is okay? When people are sent to war to fight for our freedom which she cant express without having to change her name and hide who she is for the rest of her life? This my good people is ridiculous!

    September 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    Muslim extemists are ridiculous. Absolutely idiotic in their rigid interpretations of the Quran. Seriously... to threaten to kill someone over a cartoon or graphical representation of a religious prophet is just insane.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Earl Fey

    There is no excuse for death threat but I think it is important to consider that their relegion does not use pictures of Muhammad in any form. Just go to a Mosque. Thus the issue is not a cartoon of Mohammad in a bear suit it is any drawing of Mohammad. It is hard to understand but that is their faith and right or wrong they are defending their faith.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      Earl – SORRY, you cannot say they are ONLY defending their faith as if killling people they don't agree with is acceptable in a civilized world. Only subhuman slime does that. Once they stop doing that (yes, Christian did that too centuries ago) we will admit them to the civilization and human party. Until then, they are a pestilence.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      But they themselves have ancient texts with pictures of Mohammed. They adorned their own Quran's and teachings. This ban on depiction is a modern day mandate (last few hundred years) by a right wing group. And who is to say what a true depiction is? To say "this is mohammed" and have a picture of bear? They got mad at this? How about a stick figure? Or a dot? This dot is a picture of mohammed from above – from a satellite. Should I be condemned for drawing a dot? Where does it end

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

      defending their faith by threatening to kill is not defensible. period. per your logic, should we kill them for violating our belief in freedom of speech which we hold sacred above all?

      freedom of speech over religion, that's the only way we can coexist peacefully, because "you offended my belief so I must kill you" is easily abused.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. he111

    Ahhh yes, the religion of peace and reason.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dumb muslims

    Mohammed can suck my balls! Oh, and if you got a problem with what I'm saying, then get the hell out of the USA, you turds!

    I'm surprised the crazies haven't started threatening cnn yet for allowing some of these comments. You think they would just want the ones defending Mohammed. Kudos for cnn for supporting free speech.

    By the way, I know a few muslims and they are some of the nicest people I have met. It's these extremists with the death threats that I can't tolerate.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Stoprunning

    Things like this is why I hate Islam.

    And, I'm not even against the NYC "mosque".

    They are useless, violent and if I started a group with some of their beliefs I would be labeled a hate group.

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