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. jonny

    If they had TRUE FAITH, they wouldn't need to defend anything.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Mohammed> [[S%&!]]
    { FACE}
    The preceding is a cartoon and caricature was drawn (poorly) by an American exercising his First Amendment rights.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark Yelka

    Islam = people who want control and brainwash followers to be violent. All religion uses brainwashing to some extent. Some do it without programming in violence and others, like Islam, find programming in violence, fear, and intimidation work well for them. This really isn't about God and eternal souls. It's about domination needed to hold power.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Albert

    Doesn't sound like the muslims are making any friends for themselves around the world. For every single voice claiming islam is peaceful, there seem to be atleast 10 for either issuing threats, chopping off hands and limbs, stabbing people, attacking other religions

    Someone said Islam is peaceful. In which part of the world?

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Todd

    I'm making a likeness of Mohammad out of bacon bits...Its cool

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • coder2

      ...and delicious!

      September 17, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    : p

    Mohammed sticking his tongue out.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. worried

    Im tired of putting up with this garbage. Instead of complaining lets do something. I dont buy anything from countries that foster these nuts if there is an alternative, I've put back clothing because of its origin. I ride public transport when I can & drive a 4 cylder car. I do not donate to any charity that helps groups of people that would love to see our demise. Wonder why money isnt going to help Pakistan's floods. If a religion required human sacrifice would we say its protected by religous freedom?

    September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mohammed Is Gay

    Everyone should burn a quran and put the video on Youtube...

    September 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chaosevil

    Great all the world religion kills each other so us agnostic have to clean up the mess. Bible = best selling Sci-Fi ever, Kuran = A book written by a male chauvinistic militant mad man. Agnosticism = relation to revealed truth.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LetsHaveAMomentOfSilence

    and contemplate a funny image of you-know-who in our minds.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    This is what happens when people do not take the time to research other faiths, and feel that they can be protected after saying what they please. No country has walls and she was foolish to say the stuff she did without fully thinking of the repercussions that would follow. I guess she felt safe here in the US but that's no longer the case. Stupid action, high consequences. Now her life is turned upside down because of a silly remark. The First Amendment does not carry the same weight throughout the world as it does here in the US. I guess she knows nothing of other cultures.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      Tom – some have called her actions foolish. But I think she was just naive, and overly innocent or idealistic. Like you said in your post, she thought (naively) the US would protect her. I am grateful for this forum, even if it has its extremists (I get that way myself once in a while, hence the anonymity for which I am glad, seeing as a muslim called me on it and basically threatened me, rather than condemning the lunacy involved in the picture/story above. We are getting a little additional insight (maybe somewhat distorted due to the weird muslims who have taken part so far) into how muslims think, and need to not be naive ourselves. Can islam/muslims adapt to the US like so many other groups? I want to believe it, and I want to believe that most muslims really are peaceful. But we shouldn't be naive ... based on the few muslims on this forum, we need to be much more careful than Molly was in how we treat the muslims newcomers.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PullTheTrigger

    I thought Islam was the religion of peace???

    September 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Saturn830

    I don't know what's more pathetic, the extremists over seas threatening to kill people over cartoons or the extremists at home stupid enough to take the actions of a violent minority and apply them to 1.5 billion people. Either way, I hope that Ms. Norris will be able to return to her life sometime in the near future. I'm glad we're killing those crazy SOBs.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Master_Kush

    How and why are you afraid of death threats from an Islamic Terrorist group? They cant even light their underwear and shoes on fire, let along set off a car bomb, and you are going to change your name because they made an internet threat? Sounds like you are a pawn of the media my dear... Terrorism is a fad, and is NOT a threat...

    September 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      A crazed/average/extremist (take your choice) muslim in the Netherlands stabbed filmmaker Theo van Gogh to death in broad daylight after he made a film about how mistreated muslim women have been, resulting in someone issuing an exhortation to all muslims to kill him. It happened. She is being smart. And we are being shown another face of islam.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • yankee cowboy

      You're a fool. No, check that–you're worse than a fool because you perceive there is no threat when the threat is screaming in your face. Take your pre-9/11 mindset and move to Canada.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gene

    Don't these roaches have jobs, or do they thnk Americans should do nothing but give, and give in to them?

    September 17, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
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