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. Margaret

    Satire: the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

    No one is immune to it in a free society.

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

    This should be the next project for Anonymous. I wonder how these ignorant zealots would like being victimized in the same way that they are victimizing and harassing innocent, reasonable people.

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

      Ha. I agree 100%. I know a few Anonymous members.

      September 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Something will have to be done if this continues. This is exactly how the Nazi party gained power. Fear and intimidation supressed all dissent. No one should fear their life for speaking freely. I won't see that happen to my community, or my country.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • V

      the success of such a project would be a good thing to hear about. I regret that I am unable to attend.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon For Real

      What part of "not your personal army" don't you understand?

      September 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • uh

      @Anon For Real

      wistful and wishful thinking for help is not asking for a personal army – it is just hoping that help may come from somewhere – anywhere – and anonymous peoples might help on their own – whoever and wherever they may be.
      i feel for other people sometimes – but there is little i can do to help them or me or anyone else including you.
      my other post is V. i do not run with the pack.

      September 18, 2010 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. hmm

    i know plenty of muslims but none of them seem to want to blow up the US and kill anyone who draws mohammed. but maybe you guys are sure that every single one of the 1.5billion muslims all want to kill us.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • What?


      Who the heII are you talking to? Nobody is saying anything like that in any of the posts I've been reading.
      Do you always accuse people of things they have not done? American Muslims are Americans. If they can figure that out, then why should they worry? The people having screaming fits are on the other side of the world.
      Maybe you need to get out more. You know, look around, read a newspaper, watch the real news, and don't read anything into anything that is not actually there.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sagebrush Shorty

    Has President Obama apologized to the Muslim world for her conduct?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. barbosa

    The comments I have read posted here generally confirm why not just radical extremist but sane & rational individuals around the globe have a loathing 4 us. I am american & proud 2 be one. However, patriotism & love of democracy does not have 2 equal up 2 arrogant, hateful & unbecoming behavior. Darkness is negated by light, as is ignorance by knowledge.

    I have never, & never will judge a christian by the actions of the kkk, a "christian" terrorist organization. Nor would I judge a muslim 4 the actions of al qaeda, a "muslim" terrorist organization. The same for hindus, sihks, etc.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    Is anyone else getting tired of being pushed around by these people. Cause I know that I am.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jMichele

    I am the most progressive, liberal you will ever meet. Pro-abortion, check. Pro-federal govt, check. Anti-gun, check. Pro healthcare for all, check. 911 changed me. My fear is that the islamification of the world will no longer have a place for me. That may make you TPartiers happy, but there will be no place for you either.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Rosco, because they are not people and can not rationalize like people. They are the leftovers from what we have evolved from.

      September 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BW in Seattle

    WOW. It's too bad that the trolls posting here (and you know who you are) don't get the irony in their wanting to kill 'em all and let your (equally) angry doG sort them out. You're EXACTLY like these monsters you condemn that you've created in your fearful, ignorant and paranoid "minds".

    Bottom line: It takes a major amount of maturity and world perspective to REALLY value and practice freedom of speech, even when others throughout the world (or under a bridge near you) may not. You lack even the most basic understanding of the freedom(s) you have, so it's not any surprise that you are having them systematically taken away from you.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aztecwarrior

      Ok – criticizing Islam makes them behead you. Thats what happened to Theo Van Gogh. he was not a troll or murderous fanatic. He just made a film to show how Muslim husbands beat up their many wives and blame it on the hadiths. So making serious films on Mulsims perpetrating barbaric acts like stoning, honor killing, murdering apostates, burning down churches and Hindu temples, raping minorities in Darfur all IN the name of ALLAH is reason enough to get murdered in the name of the same religion.

      Its like

      – Criticize Islam – they will kill you
      – Dont criticize Islam – they will kill you
      – Appease Muslims – they will kill you
      – Don't Appease and oppose them – they will kill you
      – Convert some muslims to Atheism – they will kill you and the persons who converted
      – Convert to Islam – they will still kill you for being an impure Muslim

      Its the worst lose lose scenario ever.

      Thank the sheep that the Prophet tended for creating those hallucinogens

      September 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Achmed the Dead Terrorist

      i will kiII you!

      September 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Willie James

    Rush Limbaugh has a tattoo of Mohmmed in the small (well, nothing small about the Gasbag) of his back.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stan

    People are such gangsters when they are hiding behind there computer monitors

    September 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • SaraC

      Brilliant observation. No one has ever said anything like that before.
      -Thug Life

      September 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nathan

    Gotta love it. Media outlets like CNN and MSNBC preach that we aren't tolerant enough when it comes to Islam yet they go around threatening to kill anyone and everyone that doesn't share the same opinion. Guess this is a one way street. I'm sure the victory Mosque will do wonders to help bridge the gap here.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wacky

    I love how ppl are yelling about freedom of expression, speech are the most important things in the Western world the moment when it comes to muslims protesting drawings of the Prophet...but the moment the British Government banned an ad about a pregnant Nun eating ice cream....everyone forgets to be outraged...
    so lets not kid ourselves we are a nation of hypocrites at times...
    For example this lady is mocking and inciting hatred toward a figure that is central to the lives of over 1.6 billion ppl in this body cared if she was being insensitive...
    but when it comes to this Pregnant NUN...the brits felt that it was insensitive since the pope was coming to england that week...

    September 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ausmadmaxx

      Outrage is one thing wanting to harm is another. That is the DIFFERENCE between the East and West.

      September 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • wacky

      what do u ppl even know about Muhammed and Islam except for the extermies and the self proclaimed experts of islam say....
      how may of you can say you read Muhammad: by Martin Lings...considered to be the most accurate and in depth book bout the life of the Prophet...or how many of you have talked to normal clergy of islam to explain parts of islam that seem to bother you...
      its easy to insult billions of ppl when you talk the words of ppl who have their own motives behind what they say..

      September 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • get a fking clue


      You are such a complete moron. We're supposed to take issue with the internal laws of Britain? What the fck for?

      September 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. truth


    September 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Martha the only word I can think of right now.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • get a fking clue


      If you're the same Martha that's been going around spewing chunks everywhere, you need to have your head shoved down a toilet.
      But if you're someone else, nevermind.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Semper Fi!

    Bozo the Clown is Mohammed ....ooooooppppsss! I guess I have to hide now....

    September 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
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