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. reality check

    In order for an insult be effective, it must contain an element of authority imposed upon and accepted by the recipient. Let me make this perfectly clear. There is nothing that you can spew from out of your wretched oral garbage pit that will send me to the proverbial lake of fire. I wouldn't give a rat's a$$ to listen to any of your potty-mouthed verbal diarrhea. There are so many more interesting ways in which you can channel that otherwise wasted energy.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. shazam 3

    I suppose you alll know that Mohammed was eaten by pigswhile laying along the road drunk. Thats why the big up set

    September 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

    I swear, EVERY day needs to be Draw Muhammed or Burn the Koran Day until these people learn tolerance of others.

    When we give in to the terrorist threats, the terrorists win.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • MuslimsROCK

      Nice. Please do that when your in Afghanistan or something, that way we clean the gene pool quick...idiot.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. coder2

    Ah, The Religion of Peace at it's finest

    September 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. coder2

    Oh, I almost forgot...
    (((:~{> <- Mohammed

    September 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Liam

    I'm sick of this nonsense. The criticism of people and ideas is fundamental to Democracy. If muslims refuse to recognize this, then perhaps they would be more comfortable in a theocracy like Iran.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Debbie


    September 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WMesser58

    How can you speak ill of the tolerant and peaceful Muslims who will "KILL YOU" to protect their beliefs.

    Mohammed is gay and doesn't exist now they can kill me as well instead of picking on a woman.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mother Nature

    I grow weary of muslims who think that they have some sort of divine right to call people to murder others. I guess I will need to send some floods and swarms of locusts to the Middle East. Enough of their idiocy!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sandy

    Who cares what the SOB looks like. He looks like all the rest of them.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    And yet they claim to be a peaceful religion. I think I will go BURN an effigy of Mohammed the TERRORIST!!!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mark

    free speech is dead, the terrorists won.

    September 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guy

    The freedom of speech is not the freedom of oppression. But of course no one is blameless. Religion simply causes more problems than not. Always has, always will..

    September 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anon

    This is an outrage!! She has to hide because she expressed her first amendment rights? The FBI should be trying to find who threatened her, not hide her! Come on America, grow some damn balls!

    September 17, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • cathy

      there is no such thing as first amendment rights when it comes to Islam......we are on our way to wearing burqa's and bowing down on top of little rugs.

      September 17, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cathy

    ahhh...the religion of peace.....

    September 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
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