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. Islamic Radicals have to go!

    The Religion of “Peace” at it again – "Pope visit: Five suspected Islamist terrorists arrested over assassination plot," by Duncan Gardham in the Telegraph, September 17:Police have arrested five suspected Islamist terrorists planning to assassinate the Pope. The men were arrested during raids at 5.45am at a business premises in central London based on an intelligence tip off received overnight. People wake up! – Whether it’s Indonesia, India, England, Spain, Holland etc. the Muslims who always cry Wolf and play the double standard! Western, Asian and Indian civilization has to band together and once and for all neutralize the radical Islamists before they give us a “Nuclear” stoning!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blarg

      Those clueless f-ing Brits. But then again I sure wouldn't go to war to avenge some piece of sht child abuser, so I guess its okay after all...

      September 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SmarterHuman

    I really don't get why we cower to these radical extremists?

    I think anyone should be able to make a joke about anything. You have the choice to not laugh, ignore it, or enjoy it. But why would it be a choice to create violence over it? It's absurd.

    Radical extremists have no sense of humor. Just because they have no sense of humor doesn't mean we should be curbing ours.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jeff

    He lives in Yemen. The best thing to do, is support arch enemies of Yemen, overthrow the wacko Yemeni henchmen, then put a 5000 dollar bounty on this rag head....

    September 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. D0n

    ONE American, having to fear for his or her life, for exercising his/her right to free speech, under threat from one organization is a Million too many...
    enough.
    Ban the violence at its source.
    Ban the Koran.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Messenger of GOD

    When you or anyone with a religious attachment seek to kill anyone in the name of any God, one. it is a false religion and two, you have sinned against God.
    Islam has been spread through conversion and force, I can say the same for Christianity, not Jesus Christ, he was the all loving example.
    The people take it upon themselves to react one way or another.
    When you leave this world, many souls will not make it into God's womb.
    Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all believe that theirs is the real religion, and all believe that Abraham and Moses are prophets. Remember the 10 commandments, live by that.
    Gods rule, love gos first, love your neighbors and enemies next. not to kill them because I am upset over a drawing.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tom Buck

    Ah yes .. the religion of so-called peace and tolerance strikes again.
    (This religion is a cancer enveloping the earth.)

    September 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BigR

    I am getting so sick of this so-called "religion" and their hateful attacks of everyone. They live, thrive, and preach violence killing & hatred above all else and expect the world to respect them? I would be completely ashamed to admit I was a muslim and practiced their sick brainwashing. I now understand why it would be such a slap in the face to let them build their terrorist's HQ at Ground Zero. Down with islam, muslims, al quieda – all of them! Get them out of our Country and nuke all of them!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Norm

    Nothing but liberal political correctness on a global scale run wild. I love how folks always say that its the right wing trying to tell you how to live your life, when right in front of your eyes you have the left telling you want you're allowed to say and think. These people need to be offended and offended often. In fact, they WANT to be offended so that they have an excuse to kill in the name of their god. If wasn't cartoons it would be something else.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jeff

    Obama, what do you say about an American cartoonist having to go into hiding in America. Immam Rauf, why don'y tou get together with you buddly mulim president, and say " She is partially to blame for her own predicament". Then we will know what to do about those two jokers......

    September 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. purplepwrgrl

    we keep being told that all muslims are of peace except for the extremists...so i gather all of these people buring Americans flags and the people pictured here are the extremists????? last I heard there were NO korans burned and now it is ok for them to threaten a cartoonist? REALLY? So only non Muslums have to be accountable and do the right thing now ...is that how this is working????

    September 17, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. truth

    @Ike-u are COMPLETELY misinformed! Read for urself!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RR

    And Muslims wonder why America is "Islamophobic." DUH!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don in Nevada

    You would think that the Government would get a trained assassin to do something that would garner the attention and a call for his head, but then sit and wait for the mouse to come to the cheese, then strike back and round up some terrorist enemies.......?? Don't we WANT to catch these guys? Instead we play into the fear and send her into hiding? Why not give her extremely good surveillance and security and booby trap these guys?!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Flora

    I don't know why all of you are attacking Islam for this. There is an underlying reason for all of this lunacy; jealousy. Notice that these extremist only go after powerful, rich nations in America and Europe, but they themselves come from crappy little countries where many don't even have the money to bathe. Their religion gives them an excuse to strike out at us in their envy & loathing, but without having to admit it.

    They're a lot like those so called "Christians" who attack gays and people of color but are always saying "I don't hate people, Jesus does!" They use their religion as a somescreen for their own prejudices. Simple as that.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Not a Good Artist

    But I'll give it a shot.

    Mohammed: @>\~{

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