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. CR

    Don't insult someone's religion in the name of freedom of speech. If you do, get ready for smack down.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    I draw a picture of Mohammad on Charmin every time I squat and wipe my crack. When am I gonna get my death threat?

    September 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pope Urban II

      Can I borrow some? Does the picture look like this? {{:-o>>

      September 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Newcastle Dave

    Why are we still letting Muslims into the U.S.?

    Shadrach, you have an excellent point although I should clarify that "religion," by and of itself, does not create monsters and self-righteous bigots. It's ORGANIZED religion that creates hatred and violence. And that includes muslums (spelling intended) and most so-called christians. Religion by itself is harmless, but when constructed into a hierarchy (prophets, pastors, bishops, etc.), faith turns from what you know and feel to what you're told by someone else. Why do most Americans feel like they need someone to tell them what to believe. Further, why do they feel the need to push their organized cult off on family and friends. I say buck it up, read the bible and figure it out for yourself. Then if you are so inclined, start your own church of one. Every one of us is a prophet. You too, Shadrach. In fact I think you're even referenced in the bible.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bruce

    Where is the outrage now!!!! Obama must love this.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rwzehr

    Once the radical Christians were told they could not do that, and until radical Islam came along, we did not fear "blasphemy" in this country.

    What is wrong with the religulous that they find it acceptable to kill others in the name of their beliefs?

    September 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mabel floyd

    when i read some of the responses i wonder if some of the writers think one can not be a" patriot "and a "christian" unless everything you write is crude-rude-and disgusting. please learn to write in a civilized manner and develop a vocabulary
    that empowers you to express yourself in a manner that an intelligent person would want to read.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pope Urban II

    This is a picture of mohammed facing east {{:-o>>, and a picture of mohammed facing west! <<o-:}}

    September 17, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Spartacus

    more direct evidence of just how dangerous and incredibly hateful the QURAN is.
    so many people bla bla bla about how wonderful a book it is, but that's a blatant lie, i have read it, and it is one of the most hateful things ever written in mankinds history, but CNN is the WORST FOR NEVER TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT'S ACTUALY WRITTEN IN THIS DISGUSTING ANTI-HUMAN BODY OF WORK.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Testament

    Just by looking at all these comments about 95% of u, are doing the exact same thing u accuse the muslims of doing. Being intolerant.... Ya'll need to practice what u preach.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Donnie

    Yep Mohammed = PIG. A pig pink stinky pig! He's the other white meat ... somebody draw him with a pig noes and cloven hooves.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • salman

      Donnie low IQ. American...

      September 19, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. D0n

    It takes courage to stand up to bullies that would kill you for standing up for your rights.
    Barrack Obama is the ultimate Islamophobic.
    He fears Islam enough to want to kiss their azzes and forfeit our rights to appease terrorists.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. whiteknight

    This is not how we need to live in our own country these piles of excrement need to be exterminated and shipped back to their country before it's too late. We can not let another group come in and rule our country that was founded on rights to free speech. We need to use our right to bear arms to forcefully remove this filth from our country because they are not going to come in here thinking they can rule us. We must stand against all of islam to protect our own country if you feel you would rather praise allah on a daily basis until they feel like getting rid of you be my guest but I for one will not stand for it.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Rabbit

      Hey, I did my good deed for the day. I drew a cartoon of that pedophile Mohamed and burned a quran and flushed the ashes down the toilet. May make that my daily ritual come to think of it.

      September 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Buck Ofama

    Introducing the Religion of Peace!

    September 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. unspokenword

    Ahh, the Muslim world, free to do anything and say anything and get away with it. Threats, murder at will, burning women, stonings, beheadings, you name it, and all you need say that it's all in the name of the almighty the merciful God. Mohammed be damned the false prophet who beheaded between 700 and 900 people.

    September 17, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SF Dave


    If the US can't protect it's citizens from this after the billions of our money poured into security then we have truly lost.

    I mean seriously we're telling this poor girl, "Sorry, you're on your own and you have to pay to keep yourself safe". The Dutch cartoonist doesn't have to pay for his protection. Why aren't we going after any terrorist that threatens an American?!?

    September 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
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