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. allitrop

    Aren’t the cartoons getting a little old? Can’t someone come up with something more creative to have to go in to hiding over?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. T. California

    Our dear president Obama was trying hard to protect the right for islam to build a mosque near ground zero but forgot the right to burn the quaran and the now the right for his citizens to live in their own country. No, I am sorry, this is not his fault, we (American citizens) voted for him so that we can prove that we do not discriminate black, so that he can tell us what we want to hear, and to critize our former president to make our enemies happy. He has done his job perfectly.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. peace

    With an intolerant mindset, they will always have something to fight about, even if the whole world converts to muslim.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xchange

      True. If Muslims cannot find non Muslims to murder they will kill other Muslims. Iran and Iraq killed 2 million Muslims in their 10 year war. To bad that war stopped. Shame on Bush for taking Iraq out of the equation.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BooseyBoo

    You never see them protesting when the extremists bomb innocent people rather they get outraged over a cartoon. Dumba$$eS.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Henry Miller

    Obama said a bit ago that we aren't at war with Islam. Unfortunately, Islam seems to want to be at war with us.

    How about this: for every American hurt, killed, kidnapped, or otherwise harmed by any Muslim, anywhere in the world, we nuke one Muslim city?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sean

    “We’re hoping the religious bigots go into full and immediate remission.
    Better yet why don't they just go to Hell.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ahuizotl

    I agree, this is America, where you should be able to make a joke without having to worry about being killed (also, I LOVE south park), but people seem to be blaming moderate Muslims more than the extremists because they're not decrying this. Well, I think the reason why they aren't speaking out is fairly obvious: they don't want to end up like this cartoonist did for speaking out about what they believe is right. That said, it's getting to the point that this silence is starting to be mistaken for approval, so just to show everyone here that their are in fact good-hearted American Muslims, I ask that all Muslims who feel that they are being misrepresented as actually aproving this horrible threat on someone's life over a joke, please show it right here, in these comments! I've both read the Koran and have had Muslim friends, I know Islam is no more evil than any other religion, so please, show everyone that your proud to be both a Muslim AND an American.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Xchange

      No one inside the USA should be in fear for their life by outside Muslim sources. Sounds like our government needs to get more motivated to weed out and eliminate deviant Muslims that reside here. Problem is how can we tell a good Muslim from a bad one until they commit a terrorist action. We are going to need the good Muslims to stand up and help point out the bad apples.

      September 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mumfry

    By their own thinking, when they burn a flag, a bible or a mock American, we should indeed according to their thinking and the Koran, slay them where we find them.
    A cruel double-standard!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blarg

      If you do what they do, then what makes you so special? Don't you want to act more intelligently than they do?
      Don't stoop to their level, or else you lose ALL of whatever "moral superiority" you thought you had.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Xchange

    If Muslims in USA are peaceful then why is this comic author in fear. Sounds to me that maybe some of the so called peaceful USA population need to be weeded out.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rock God

    In this country there have been many doctors killed by Christian terrorists. No cartoonists have been harmed my Muslim terrorists.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ausmadmaxx

      Hmm, So you are siding with a better Terrorist. We are not talking religion. Its the American Way....

      September 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Honest Abe

    Well... I am a Christian but I am not looking at the situation from a religious view. Molly is responsible for her actions and should've been willing to accept the consequences of them. If I were to decide to burn Bibles and/or write cartoons demeaning our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.... You know how you would feel also. There are a small percentage of Christian extremists in our midst (possibly more than ever before at this point in time) that might be willing to say... blow up a building and kill scores of people, shoot doctors, etc... If you want to look and talk, look, and be like a gangster, you'd better be prepared to do some fighting and perhaps losing your life. I can assure you my brothers and sisters that this cartoonist DID NOT consult the Lord our God when she acted in the way she did. If she were to have asked Him for advice... He would have told her to pray for them. Molly needs to ask the Lord for forgiveness and stay close to Him.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hairy Eyeball

      @"Honest Abe"

      You lying little piece of sht! I wish I had you in my sights right now. Tell your mullah you failed.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RenaP

    Very good point "Rock God". Lets see which one of these Einsteins can come up with anything incorrect in your comment.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Todd

    I get the feeling that a lot of Muslims haven't actually read the Quoran and have very little understanding if Islam. I guess the same can be said about Christians and the Bible. Everybody seems eager to declare themselves religious, but don't want to be bothered to actually know what it's all about.

    If you think Islam or Christianity is based on hatred of others or violence or war, you're just not paying attention to the very thing you claim is so important to you.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aztecwarrior

    Time for everyone to wear Muhammed masks on Halloween – print the Dansh cartoons, carve holes in the eyes and sell them! this Halloween lets make it a point!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Seriously? You think the best response to bizarre, violent behavior is to fan the flames?

      To what end?

      September 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aztecwarrior

      No I dont want to actually do it – I am just threatening to do it. Like Pastor jones, maybe I can get some interview money from TV channels and make some money 😀

      September 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Disgusted

    Now I want to see that mosque-loving Imam stand up and denounce the people who made the threat. Then we can begin talking about his mosque. Religion of Peace, Religion of Tolerance - What a travesty ! Its just a bunch of barbaric b.s. backed by rabid clergy. Do we have to put up with this?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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