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. Indigo

    It was a very foolish thing to do, knowing the Muslims sensitivity to depictions of their prophet Mohammed, especially cartoon depictions. Having said that, I think going into hiding is a high price to pay for foolishness.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bbujia

    Abuzayd-People might agree with you if there was any intent of insult noted in this story. The fact is, this woman received death threats becasue she proposed a day where people draw an image of Mohammed. For non-Muslim's that is not blasphemy and should not be something one should be killed for. As a Christian, I do not like when people disrespect or speak poorly about Christ, but I also don't believe his teachings would be best served with violence against those people.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mohammed Is Gay

    Eat DIRT you muzzie pieces of crap, I'm not afraid of you losers...it's time to declare Jihad on Islam!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      I Love You Man

      September 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jamesnyc

    And we're being criticized for not wanting a Mosque??? What about how Muslims are making death threats for people exercising our right to free speech.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. InsertPictureofMohammadHere

    I'm glad to see more peaceful Islam. An American is afraid to live freely in America. We should be outraged. Too bad Americans have become as intelligent as sheep.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mohammed Is Gay

    Mohammed was a pedophile and a rapist, can't handle the truth can you?

    September 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gulfboater

    People making these death threats could be hunted down. If someone threatend me with assassination for something that stupid, that's exactly what I would do. There are laws against it in this country.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mohammedsux

    Screw Mohammed and screw Islam

    September 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. M Seth

    Keep on at it iSlimes, eventually somebody is gonna get a hurt.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Drawing Mohammad

    Islam is NOT a peaceful religion, no matter how many times they repeat it will never be true. It is a religion of hatred and violence. Threatening a cartoonist with death over a couple of South Park episodes (which I thought were very funny) and a call for a draw Mohammad day is over the top. Some lunatic will probably try.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chris

    So its ok for Muslims to destroy artifacts and representations of other religions world wide, yet its not ok for someone to even think about drawing a picture of their prophet? I'm sorry but if you honestly believe this your a hypocrite

    September 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Herndogger

    If I went to a muslim country would they change there ways or laws because MY religion is different??? No F'n way but, they EXPECT us too?? C'mon we are just letting them walk in and take over. Thank god we have Obama in charge...No WAY he would let THIS happen !!! (A BIG sarcastic statement)

    September 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Herndogger

    Before the spelling nazis get here it would be "their"

    September 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Herndogger, to refer to anyone as a Nazi is ridiculous. You are comparing people that get onto spelling errors to those that created mass murder against Jews, gays, gypsies and many others who did not share their belief?

    September 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herndogger

      It is a F'n expression. Sorry we have to be so POLITICLY CORRECT any more. I guess freedom of MY speech doesn't count. Every one has an opinion and that is good with me.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. M Seth

    How about an event – "million drawings of prohetophile"

    September 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
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