MEDIA

Molly Norris, Cartoonist Behind 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,' Goes Into Hiding

09/16/2010 04:50 pm 16:50:24 | Updated May 25, 2011

Molly Norris, an American cartoonist who proposed "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," has gone into hiding and will change her name after the FBI weighed in on threats to her safety.

The Seattle Weekly announced Norris' decision to abandon her identity in a post dated Wednesday, Sept. 15:

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. ... She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program--except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab.

Norris' path to hiding began with an April cartoon published in the wake of Comedy Central's censorship of a South Park episode that depicted Islam's most revered prophet as a bear.

In response to Comedy Central's decision, Norris created a satirical cartoon that proclaimed May 20, 2010 as "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

But the artist's satirical proposal struck a nerve and quickly inspired Facebook pages that included more than 71,000 followers.

Norris was disgusted by the response:

"I am horrified! My one-off cartoon that was specifically about Comedy Central's behavior ... is not good for a long-term plan," she wrote. "The results have shown to be vitriolic and worse, offensive to Muslims who had nothing to do with the censorship issue I was inspired to draw about in the first place."

The Facebook pages, which included depictions of Mohammed, sparked protests in Pakistan where lawyers won a case requiring the government to to block the social networking site until May 31.

Pakistani lawyers weren't the only ones who picked up on Norris' poster.

In July, the New York Daily News reported that Anwar al-Awlaki, the extremist American cleric tied to the failed Times Square bombing and the Fort Hood shooting, put Norris on a hit list.

The FBI described the threat as "very serious."

In May, the home of a Swedish cartoonist who drew Mohammed was targeted by arsonists. In January, a Danish cartoonist was targeted in a second murder attempt. A knife-wielding Somali national broke into his home before being shot and apprehended by police.

In 2004, Dutch fillmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death by a man angry at van Gogh for his role in a film that showed verses from the Quran on the body of a nude woman.

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