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. LordGiggles

    Ah, those Peace loving Muslims, and their peace loving religion...

    September 18, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ben dover

    did you guys know mohammad was a guy in a bear suit?

    September 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dalgast

    I can't draw him, but I have a digital picture of him. I have a large breed dog, and he went out in the back yard last night, this morning when I went out, there it was, a perfect likeness of Allah himself. And just like the rest of his followers, he was drawing flies. Now I wonder, am I going to have a bunch of ragheads trying to get in my backyard to see it. Now if any of you Haji's want to drop by, I'm having some mighty fine pork ribs and sausage brots. You bring the virgins.

    September 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ether

    Since this clerics are the ones issuing submission and death order, why can't any one of a billion muslim silence all this extremist cleric one at a time and make it true that Islam is in fact a peaceful religion. If no muslim will do it, all muslim are like it.

    September 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anony-Mouse, The Cartoonist

    Here's my Muhammad cartoon. Please copy it and spread the word.

    September 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Doba

    Okay, as a Muslim, I hope the US kills Awlaki ASAP. I can't believe he's ruined this poor girls life with his ridiculous attempt at fatwas or talks or whatever he thinks he does with his 'do-it-yourself' brand of Islam/jihad. So she made a satirical joke about drawing the Prophet. Who cares? The world is full of real problems – this isn't one of them. Make him a corpse.

    September 18, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DGHankins

    I hope they don't come to us for aid or support.Muhammad is a false God that will lead his follower down the road to destruction and hell. This come from the teaching of the Bible, but i am not running around threatening muslin with death.

    September 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ether

    Islamic principles applies only to all muslims. You can't apply it to non-muslims and non-believers. Those fatwa is good only for muslims if carried out to non-believers or non-muslims, expect 10 times in return.

    September 18, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wow

    Islam=Submit-surrender? Absolutely nothing AMERICAN about that!!! Keep up the great artwork guys! I'm inspired!!!surrender? There is bs

    September 19, 2010 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. VC

    Here is my take on this. I'm already over here in this 'God-Forsaken Land'. There is thing we have in our country of freedom of expression. If we can't do that, then why are we here helping these people in Afghanistan. Its ok for them to do whatever they want to our country, but we cant have a small simple humor? Lets be real.

    September 19, 2010 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. wow

    What kind of "God" tell a man to hump little girls? Hello?

    September 19, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. abuzar

    you all proving your self gay hidding behind thhe computer and barking ask molly she knows how it feel,she lost 7 pounds and als having cancer lol i hope she appologise h before she meets death angel

    September 19, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. wow

    Apologise for what? What your god have for u after u run out of 99 virgins? Nothing spiritual about the flesh. When u die u fleshy parts die too! Nat Geo was wrong- neandrathal genes flourishing in middle east!!!!!! Do ALL muslim think it ok to penetrate little girls like their prophet?

    September 19, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kamara

    Peace loving religion? In the face of this report please try to convince us one more time how its just a few radicals in the middle east and were all just being "Islamiphobic".

    September 19, 2010 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  15. wow

    I just dozed off for a minute & I had a dream-in this dream God came to me and said that I should sodomize my 6 year old neighbor! Does this make me a muslim prophet or do I have to wait until she turns 9?

    September 19, 2010 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • DGHankins

      great one

      September 19, 2010 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
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