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. herrsonic

    Well, the terrorists have already changed how we lived a long time ago which started with 9/11. Travelling by plane has never been the same since, and it is one big hassle everytime one has to go to the airport.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LiberalNN

    Islam sucks.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • dje2671

      All religions suck and are pointless mumbo jumbo!

      September 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • peace

      If a cartoonist desecrates Budha, a Buddhist would simply say "Ah Mi To Fo (my merciful Budha)" and leave it at that

      September 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JohnRJ08

    I never really understood why devout Muslims get so upset about images of the Prophet. The reason Muhammad forbid images of himself is because he didn't want to be elevated to some high spiritual status. He didn't want his image to become a religious icon. OK. Makes sense. However, threatening to kill non-Muslims who draw his likeness seems to do just that. It appears to make Muhammad's image some kind of mystical secret that is akin to forbidden knowledge, just as speaking the name of God was once a taboo in Judaism. In any case, the Qur'an says nothing about killing non-Muslims who draw the Prophet's likeness. It is only supposed to be a taboo for "believers".

    September 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LiberalNN

    I just deleted a copy of the Quran from my PC!!!

    September 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anonymous - you know why

    Another shining moment for the "Religion of Peace".

    September 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richard Cancemi

    Being Raised As An Italian Catholic I Might See Why A Black And White Cartoon Drafted One Hundred Years Ago Might Create Issues In The Regions Of Dichotomy (I Left Organized Religion Years Ago).
    These Cartoons Are In Color. Certainly There Must Be Some Room In A Color Cartoon For Us To Laugh At Ourselves.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chaz


      September 17, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dje2671

    Stupid cow! What did she expect, adoration?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antistupidity

      It's called the first amendment

      September 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • dje2671

      Antistupidity – It might be called the First Amendment here in the US, but in the Middle East, they could give a toss. I hate to break it to you, but there is a world outside the US!

      September 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Me

    I dare any muslim wacko's to try to come get me.. BRING IT.. I pooped on a picture of Mohammad that I drew.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Martin SA

    these threats need to stop and our country needs to do something to protect our first amendment rights.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tired of Apologizing

    Before the initial attacks on the World Trade Center and 9/11 I don't believe the average American thought of Islam except as just another religion-not something you saw everyday and rather exotic. We did not plot to blow up buildings in their country, much less decry those countries with a majority of Muslim worshippers as devils, infidels etc. and claim the only recourse was to kill them all. I do not understand why, now that they have grabbed our attention through acts of violence and anger, Americans are supposed to accept and show above average reverence for their beliefs. Didn't they ever hear the old saying "you attract more bees with honey?" A simplistic thought, but true nonetheless.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dje2671

      Didn't blow up buildings in their countries??!!! Did you sleep during both gulf wars?

      September 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tired of Apologizing

      I do NOT remember that war being over religion. Big difference.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • dje2671

      Maybe not, regardless, the US hasn't exactly been peaceful toward these people.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy Johnson

      Good comment – I think most people try to accept and be tolerant – but HOW can a 'peacefull religion' that is being 'ripped to shreads by extreemists' so to speak now force a CARTOONIST in her own homeland to go into hiding???? If I had a 'lets make a Jesus cartoon contest' would anybody care???? Like NO maybe!!!!!!

      September 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Antistupidity

    islam is a religion of peace?

    September 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Concerned Patriot

    September 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sempi Fi

    Mohammed who.............cares. Freedom and Liberty were not a part of his teachings. So he dosen't matter.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. E

    Muslims kill, and we are worried about a man who wants to burn a Koran. Maybe the Koran is not such a holy book after all.

    September 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Angelika Bertrand

    Honestly. Shoot them all down. Cause why do we have to put up with their ignorance towards our Western culture? Why do we need to be cultural integrated? Why do they go to our country to study, take on our Western culture, only in Return to retaliated against us? Has any one ever ask themselves the questions, "Why Muslims think that they are so suprior above all other Religions? " I am sorry, but women in 21 st century, have to wear a veil, men wear long beards, are the onlyy onces allowed to walk the streets. Women have no rights in their culture. What a shame. Their Religious idealogical francaticism , is what makes Muslims look bad. And that is my opinion

    September 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • boot to the head

      francaticism is the worship of all the cats owned by Fran. I don't think she'd agree with you.

      September 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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