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. wazzup

    I think that picture should read: Look, we discovered fire !!

    September 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |

    "Every hater of Islam on this board is a complete coward, and this is immediately apparent to anyone with an ounce of courage when they read your posts."

    My counter-argument to that?

    "Only the Sith speak in terms of absolutes." Obi-wan Kenobi

    September 17, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. lydia

    If an American made death threats to another person, he/she would be prosecuted. Why are they getting away with this?

    September 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. inforodeo

    Most of the time I'm left wondering why someone would even bother going out of their way to rile the extremists. I think mocking ANYONE'S religion is childish and inconsiderate.

    That said, we do live in a free nation and if some of our citizens want to make a living poking fun at people, let 'em. If someone is going to resort to violence over a stupid cartoon, they're an idiot.

    Forcing folks in western nations to live in fear for their lives because something they said or drew is TERRORISM. We shouldn't cower to it.

    September 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Haha

    haha thats hilrious keep it up america...we are watching very closely!!

    September 17, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lol

    good times in america...thats wat the cartoonist asked for and now she pays the price...maybe she should join binladen in hiddin in a cave 🙂

    September 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katya

    I must admit this is a little strange... Has anybody seen how the South Park treats Jesus and His Father?

    September 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abraham Lincoln

      Jesus's father is Jose.

      September 18, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      The 'U.S. Jesus' isn't 'Jesus'.

      September 18, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Are we loosing this war ??

    I have been reading this board for a long time, but for once, I have not heard or seen any response from a Muslim attacking Jesus or Budda. I think we as christians need to be careful not to marginalize our selves from the rest of the wolrd. I just feel that they seem to be looking better than us because of the "hate" comments we are posting on this board and on others. I just feel that they are morally winning by not responding to us in the same "hate meeter".

    September 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ituri

      Are you joking with that BS? Muslims "look better" than "us" (who's us to start with?) because even though they're actually KILLING people, they don't resort to naughty names in conversation about us while we do? Seriously? Please tell me you're joking.

      At any rate, you've apparently never seen any videos of Mullahs speaking in mosques from the US to the Middle East. They do plenty of talking down about everyone else. They just incite more MURDER rather than curse and scream at the absurdity of it all.

      September 18, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. Larry Cohen

    So much for free speech and freedom of expression. Just like in the school yard – CRAZY always wins!!

    September 17, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. scranton

    ARE WE LOOSING THIS WAR?? Are you losing your mind? I believe the hate meter is well over to the crazy mullahs side. Haven't heard of any Christians chopping off any muslim's heads lately. No adulterous people being stoned to death, or any Christians standing in a market and blowing themselves up along with the women and children. Grow a pair and quit apologizing to these mentally deficient Islamic extremist.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. religion is stupid

    Absolutely sickening, and I'm not only talking about the death threats – for anyone defending the US, this is NOT a christian nation and I resent being misrepresented that way. Can we all just advance as a species and get rid of all religions once and for all? Jesus, Mohammad, whatever, it's all FAIRY TALE GARBAGE. Burn a Bible, burn the Quaran, burn the torah – ITS ALL FKKING STUPID!!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Outlaw Organized Religion

      I believe that religion or spirituality is something many people want and need. I consider myself to be a spiritual person. However, I think it is organized religion that needs to be done away with. Because all the Judeo–Christian religions, Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam are nothing more than complex control structures. It is this type of religion that needs to be done away with so the world can evolve out of the 10th century and into the 21st. The world be such a better place for it.

      September 18, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Truth be Told

    People don't kill over Islam everyday? Who are you kidding. Just watch the news about all the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's over Islam and the worst part? It's Muslims killing innocent Muslims. I'm not a Muslim, but with seeing this everyday, hard to respect a religion that praises this. What people fail to realize is to be a true martyr, you have to die for your religious beliefs. Example: You are a Muslim, a Christian tells to to deny Allah and claim Jesus. You refuse and you get shot in the head. That makes you a martyr, not blowing up innocent men, women and children. How does ANY religion expect to influence when so many twist and conduct themselves in horrific manners. People really need to think about how they are. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't make threats to those who mock you and then claim peaceful religion. Sorry, don't work that way. I've seen plenty of hypocrites in ALL religions.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ron

    I'm personally finding that if a person has to hide for making a joke about another religion, there is something seriously wrong with the religion and or it's people. That being said, I am finding Islam to be a distasteful religion, one that shouldn't be trusted...on the same par I see conservative, evangel Christians. Both are violent and treacherous, don't kid yourself.

    September 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thhhhhhhhhh

    Haha its true, you cant draw what isnt real!!!

    September 18, 2010 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. WeNeedLessOfMo

    Yo Mo wassup my brother???????????

    September 18, 2010 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
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