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Posted at 9:15 AM ET, 04/26/2010

Post-'South Park': Cartoonist retreats from 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna

NOTE: The original post was published 1 a.m. April 25.


norris2.jpg (courtesy of Molly Norris)

Stop the campaign, she wants to get off.

The Seattle artist whose anti-censorship cartoon has helped spawn "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" says she wants no part of the May 20 event, which is gaining momentum online

"I made a cartoon that went viral but [this campaign] isn't really my thing," cartoonist Molly Norris tells Comic Riffs, characterizing her cartoon as merely a personal response to Comedy Central's censorship of a "South Park" episode last week. "Other folks have taken it over" -- an appropriation she says she is distancing herself from.

Postings on the Islamic website led to Comedy Central's editing last week of a "South Park" speech about fear and intimidation, the show's creators have said. That network censorship has spawned another cartoon event: Everybody Draw Muhammad Day -- a campaign that might not be so easily quieted.

A posterlike cartoon titled "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" has been posted on the blogs of such commentators as Dan Savage to Andrew Sullivan. Savage tells Comic Riffs he published the cartoon on his blog late last week after it was e-mailed to him.

The growing campaign now includes a Facebook page titled Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. On Saturday night, the page had fewer than 1,500 "confirmed guests"; as of Monday morning (ET), the page was nearing 6,000 signed-up guests.

The creator of the page, Jon Wellington, tells Comic Riffs: "I created a Facebook event because that's an easy way to remind myself of upcoming events, and I thought it might serve that purpose for others too."

Adds Wellington: "I am not a cartoonist, and I loved [Norris's] creative approach to the whole thing -- whimsical and nonjudgmental."

The wall on Wellington's page has become an ongoing forum-of-sorts about the controversy. Some posts on the wall are from vocal supporters of Muhammad; other posts are purely anti-religion; and other posts say the campaign, at its heart, is all about the First Amendment and the defense of free speech.

As for the event itself, Wellington calls it "a bit of a phenomenon" -- one, of course, that he himself has helped grow in popularity. (In response, there is also a "Ban Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" Facebook page that has more than 800 members.)

The text of Norris's cartoon says, in part, that an Everybody Draw Muhammad day would "water down the pool of targets" for Islamic terrorists.

In a radio interview Friday with KIRO's Dave Ross, Norris cited that text about "the pool of targets" and also said it's a cartoonist's job to be "non-PC."

In that interview, Norris said of the Facebook campaign: "Dare me, I'll pursue it." A day later, however, she told Comic Riffs she had a change of heart, saying the campaign had grown far larger than she intended and that her cartoon was being appropriated in ways that were beyond her control.

Norris tells Comic Riffs she is accustomed to a quieter life as an artist. Her Seattle-based work includes the regular "Everyone's a Critic" cartoon for City Arts magazine.

Now, says Norris -- who has called laughter a form of prayer -- the online campaign is too large for her comfort. On her page, the cartoonist has posted a follow-up cartoon of 10 word balloons: one reads, "I have hit some kind of gigantic nerve!"; another says, "I am so freaked out that I am not even drinking my regular 4 pots of coffee per day!"; and a third reads, "I am a coward. I have backed off of being associated with any group of her cause."

Norris also cites the rise of a nonexistent group. The text of her original cartoon jokes that the day is "sponsored by Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor or CACAH (pronounced ca-ca)." Now, the site is encouraging submissions of protest art.

Indeed, some artists aren't waiting till May 20 to generate their own Muhammad images, which range from the straight-forward to the angry to the overtly scatalogical. Any depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemous by some Muslims.

Elsewhere, Gawker quotes Younus Abdullah Mohammed of Revolution Muslim as saying that he felt media coverage of the controversy has been unfair: "It was typical of the mainstream media. It was senseless -- they never cover any of the other crimes against Islam we write about."

The Revolution Muslim representative also tells Gawker that most Americans are "dumbed down, stupid and pathetic. They're worried more about missing their favourite TV show than they are about the world."

Regarding "South Park," specifically, the TV show -- by Matt Stone and Trey Parker -- depicted Muhammad nearly a decade ago, sparking relatively little uproar. In the wake of the Danish "Muhammad cartoon" controversy that has simmered for five years, however, the show's depictions of Muhammad this month (the religious leader appears in a bear suit) have received far more attention -- particularly since Comedy Central last week reportedly edited a 35-second speech about intimidation and fear.

Norris's original cartoon is "dedicated" to Stone and Parker.

As for the larger campaign, Norris says simply: "I just want to go back to my quiet life."

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By Michael Cavna  | April 26, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  The Political Cartoon  | Tags:  Andrew Sullivan, Comedy Central, Dan Savage, Islam, Matt Stone, Molly Norris, Muhammad, Trey Parker  
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Next: Fiore's Wake: Political cartoonists force the issue with Apple's apps


According to the NYT, this was a "warning" from Muslim groups, despite saying that they would end up like Theo van Gogh.

And, from the same paper, a group of grandparents in the Tea Party saying that they do not care for Obama's policies are a "threat".


Posted by: idiocy | April 25, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't think South Park should have been censored. But "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" isn't the answer. It just sticks a finger in the eye of Muslims everywhere, not just the violent radical Muslims. You KNOW Muslims find it offensive, so why purposely offend them? How about if some violent radical Christian threatened some cartoonist over his depiction of Jesus? Would the right response be for everybody to draw offensive (to most Christians) cartoons of Jesus?

Second, you have chosen the wrong target. The correct target are those at Comedy Central who censored the South Park speech. THEY are the ones whose action is offensive. Let's draw cartoons of cowering spineless wimps.

Posted by: egc52556 | April 25, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

***** Mohammed! This is a free country!!!!! and, I will say what I want. Censor South Park? Are you kidding me???????? This is going way to far!!!!

Posted by: throatyogurt13 | April 25, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Hahaha, I love it. Say, egc52556, were you not aware that almost EVERYTHING "sticks a finger in the eye of Muslims"? It's not like a cartoons of Mohammed can be stopped. I mean why not? the whole demeanor of the guy, the history of his antics, literally begs to be made a cartoon of, marrying a 9 year old, calling for the murder of Jews behind every rock, "No pictures of me", as if he was hiding from the "paparazzi" of the day, and then there's his promise of the "12 virgins", are you kidding me? this is a religion?. Let's hope Muslims finally get over themselves, if not, well maybe the rest of the civilized world will finally get it that Islam is a whackjob religion, as bad if not worse than Catholicism.

Posted by: Watcher1 | April 25, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I warned them this would happen several days ago. Take down 1, 2 more rise. Threaten them, and now even more have joined in.

The moral is, everybody listen to me. I say, "Let's love each other,not hate."

Posted by: atherworld | April 25, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

This is very childish, not newsworthy, unless of course you like to make Muslims look bad.

Posted by: muslim1908 | April 25, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I am Spartacus.

If I could draw in this medium, I would.

Posted by: edbyronadams | April 25, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Making fun of muslims is lots more fun than making fun of christians. All the christians do is threaten me with their big brother god, how I'm gonna get it and blah blah.

The muslims actually threaten me now. They're lots funnier, far more pathetic.

And really, think about it for a bit. If the whole of islam tried to take on the world, if they pushed it to the point where we the human race just wouldn't put up with them anymore ...

Posted by: barferio | April 25, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse


Most Muslims could not care less, except inasmuch as they are embarrassed by the controversy and the radicals' response that makes all Muslims look like crybabies or violent fanatics.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | April 25, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm divided on this issue. On the one hand, I think it's important for Americans -- especially all forms of media -- to take a firm stance for freedom of expression and to band together to show solidarity and an absolute refusal to bend to the will of any one group that tries to stifle expression with threats.

On the other hand, I've seen comments on the web indicating that for a lot of folks, it's more about sticking it to all Muslims (not just the threat-makers) than about freedom of expression in general. That bothers me -- it shouldn't be done for that reason.

In any event, I'll be curious to see which news outlets actually show any of the images that are bound to start popping up around the web and which will obviously be relevant to any reporting on this issue in the coming days.

Posted by: BunnyNC | April 25, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Support CACAH (citizens against citizens against humor). Send your cartoons to www.CACAH.ORG

protect the first amendment!

Posted by: aliensfromouterspace | April 25, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of the childish response to the fringe Muslim groups. As has been noted here, depictions of the Prophet are offensive to the vast majority of Muslims. The fact that a few radical nutcases respond with violence is not a reason to purposely offend a large group of people. The only "value" is that you can read the bigotry and hatred in the comments and see what kind of beams Christians should be getting out of their own eyes before they fret over the motes in the eyes of their Islamic brethren.

Posted by: MikePeterson1 | April 25, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

|O O| ____ Hi, I'm Mohamed
| _ | /
/ \
/ \

This is the freaking 21st century, and people are still so superstitious as to kill people because of Bronze-age goat-herder myths? Any such people deserve merciless mocking until they realize how silly they are.

And yeah, all you "10 Commandments should be in the Courtroom" nutcases, you too. Have you even READ the Third Commandment?

Posted by: 12008N1 | April 25, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"Would the right response be for everybody to draw offensive (to most Christians) cartoons of Jesus?"

Yes, yes it would. And that's what happens. We don't ban things in this country just because they're offensive. Otherwise we would have banned Nascar, Republicans, Quentin Tarantino movies and the Octomom.

Muslims who are upset over visual depictions of the prophet Muhammad need to get over themselves; it's their problem, not ours, that they get offended.

Posted by: simpleton1 | April 25, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Can you be a good Muslim and a good American? I doubt it.

Posted by: rusty3 | April 25, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Ha, well played, 12800N1. First time I've ever laughed out loud at a comment on the Post.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | April 25, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the comments against "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" seem to place drawing Mohammed in the same category as desecrating the Qur’an, burning a flag, or using a racial epithet. But there's a real problem with this analogy. In these examples, the action is intrinsically offensive because it clearly and unambiguously express hatred and contempt for a particular group based solely on their religion, nationality, or race. These may all be forms of constitutionally protected speech in the United States, but most people agree that they have no place in "polite society."

In contrast, making a drawing of Mohammed amounts to little more than violating a religious taboo. The prohibition against depicting Mohammed stems from concerns that images, statues, or other works of art may lead to idolatry and corruption of the faith. Indeed, there are some schools of thought that conclude any representational art should be prohibited under Islamic law. Looked at this way, the prohibition seems akin to other well-known religious taboos such as dietary restrictions (halal, kosher, etc.) or rules relating to marriage, divorce, and sexual activity.

Personally, I feel it's extremely inappropriate for believers of any religion to claim offense when non-believers decline to follow taboos and dogma that are based exclusively on religious teaching. Expecting non-Muslims to refrain from depicting Mohammed is a bit like expecting non-Jews to refrain from eating bacon or non-Catholics to refrain from using condoms. This standard is particularly disturbing when it's applied to artists who are actively engaged in questioning and challenging the proper role of religion in public discourse.

What it boils down to (in my opinion) is that it's reasonable for Muslims to criticize specific drawings of Mohammed that are clearly hateful, mean-spirited, or incendiary. It's not reasonable to demand that all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, adhere to a specific tenet of the Muslim faith. And even in the case of clearly offensive drawings the *only* acceptable responses are public criticism, boycotts, and other legal tactics.

For these reasons I think "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" serves a very important purpose. Rather than being an in-your-face response to the "South Park" controversy that's intended to insult Muslims, it actually reinforces the idea that no religion should be allowed to impose its doctrines on those outside the faith, either by threats or by claiming "offense."

Posted by: hyperion3 | April 25, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I stole this image.

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Posted by: imemmetc | April 25, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of the Muslims getting preferential treatment....ooooo comedians can't mock you, but everyone else is open game.

Welcome to America, stand up and take it, or LEAVE, it is that simple...take your extremest friends and go back to whatever country you came from....that is the essence of what we call "freedom of speech".

If anything happens to the creators of South Park, the world should go after all muslims...I'm sorry if you can't keep your extremest representatives in line, than all should pay the price...

Posted by: ilovetheusa | April 25, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

hyperion3, very nicely said. Thanks for your post!

Posted by: BunnyNC | April 26, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

"depictions of the Prophet are offensive to the vast majority of Muslims"

Then they need to get over themselves.


They can face the idea that Jesus is more powerful because he has a rifle:

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 26, 2010 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of cartoons that devoted followers of some religions may find offensive, has The Post received negative comments on the cartoon that is on the other end of WaPo's link to this week's installment of "Tom the Dancing Bug"?

Posted by: seismic-2 | April 26, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

There is also a youtube campaign called "Have you seen this man?"

Let the cartooning begin.

Posted by: wisteria2 | April 26, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The best thing Muslims can do right now is ignore this type of thing--the concept of turning the other cheek is an important one in Islam--though you wouldn't know that from the radicalist rubbish spouted by the crazies.

By getting riled up and upset and making this a bigger deal than it really is, Muslims are giving anti-Muslim groups (whether openly so or not) the fodder they need to continue preaching hate. You're playing right into their hands.

The depictions are offensive? Then fine, don't look at them. Stop watching southpark, ignore the comic web sites that are going to show this stuff. Shake your head, and then do something constructive for the religion. Spread information about building schools for girls in Afghanistan. Give money to a fund that feeds poor Muslim kids in Africa. Start a scholarship that helps get a poor Muslim kid a good education. Do something worthwhile, instead of playing right into the hands of those who hate the religion the most.

Posted by: thecat7 | April 26, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Hyperion--great posting. You said it perfectly.

Posted by: thecat7 | April 26, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I did a comic featuring Mohammed last week check it out'

Posted by: slimredninja | April 26, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm maybe this will work


Posted by: slimredninja | April 26, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Look at all those media people who censor themselves out of fear of violence from angry Moslems who cannot stand any sort of blasphemy! Are these media people the real Islamophobes? After all, they associate Islam with violence, and they are afraid of it.

Actually, our best defense against spreading sharia law is to subject Islam to the same ridicule, mockery and blasphemy that other religions are routinely subjected to. So, by all means, let's have a "Draw Muhammad Day"!

Posted by: Montedoro | April 28, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

How ridiculous does a religious belief have to be before we society doesn't have to treat it as sacred?

Posted by: acebojangles | April 28, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

I would normally consider this cartoon movement silly and not worthy of attention... I too have no desire to offend millions of devout Muslims or for that matter Christians with like say a Draw-Jesus-day.

But there is an under-lining seriousness to it all.

World-wide: A few people live in fear... and a million Media types and organizations self-censor because of that same fear.

Why ?

Because the threat of violence by radical Islamists has worked. Think Yale, Think Denmark.

If the West is to survive... it must defend its most sacred freedoms... freedom to speech, freedom to publish, and the freedom to live .. well free of terror and intimidation.

Ten thousand artists... will make it much harder for the terrorists to win.

Or well OK... maybe being a dhimmi is safer.

oh yes.. and please don't print my name.

- Anonymous

Posted by: pvilso24 | April 28, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Guys, please note Muslims are not asking non Muslims to refrain to Islamic laws or beliefs, it’s just that Muslims do not insult Jesus Christ (Prayers upon them) or draw cartoons of him, nor comics, can anyone tell me honestly if they ever received an insult about Jesus Christ, nor Moses (PUT), if Christians disagree with Muslims or Islam regarding beliefs, that doesn’t mean to offend or hate them and do all they can do to offend them, Muslims totally respect and believe in Jesus and Moses (PUT) as prophets of the one God, Qur'an and Prophet Muhammed (Prayers & Blessings upon him) taught Muslims to respect all messengers of god, including Jesus and Moses (PUT), and just as much as Muslims are not ok with drawing Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in comics or putting him cartoon, movies or jokes, they wouldn’t accept insults to Jesus or Moses (PUT), nor were they happy about putting a man in (Passion of the Christ) to represent Jesus (PUH) because he is too pure for a man to act as him, also we`re all very sure that no Christian could insult Moses (PUH) or mock coz he would be then accused of the so called anti-semitism, just as sure as I'm that if I post a photo of an Israeli sniper shooting a Palestinian baby(which is a repetitive fact), I would be accused of anti-semitism however I'd only be posting a photo of a real brutal murder.
Qur’an teaches us something very important as Allah told Muhammed to tell those who disbelieve (you have your religion, and I have mine). Muslims have never insulted Jesus or Moses (PUT) so please tell me a reason that make you can’t live without insulting Muhammed (BPUH).
Just live in peace and peace be upon all.
*(PUT/PUH = Prayers upon Them/Him)
*(BPUH= Prayers and blessings upon him)

Posted by: scctvp | April 29, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Nobody had ever heard of this group, RevolutionMuslim, before this. I don't understand why they're being treated as the voice of all Muslims? I'm a Muslim and I have a sense of humor, I get that entertainment and media firms constantly push the envelope. When I see something that offends me, I turn off the TV.

No one should be condemned to death for this.

Posted by: rhf123 | April 29, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Religion calls for offense. Period. However, I am proposing a "Let's Stop Talking About Drawing Pictures of Mohammed Which Offend Muslims Because Who Gives A Sh*t" Day. Any takers?

Posted by: blzebub23 | April 29, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I am fed up with the muslim threats! I have read the Bible cover to cover five times and find love and understanding in it. I just finished reading the AL-QUR'AN Copyright 1997, THe Instituie of Islamic Knowledge. In it I see pages telling of evil towards anyone not muslim, I see statements that a man must beat his wife if she does not submit to him, I see hate for non muslims all through it. I'm have seen many religous figures drawn funny and no one minds, its a cartoon you know. For muslim nuts to threaten someone over a cartoon then ok lets see what you got. I carry and I'm always armed. I,ll be doing what others I know have done, that is dip all my bullets and other weapons in pig fat. Wake up america and get some guts! Terrirism only works if you let it change what you do because you are a coward and will not defend yourself. I for one will stand and defend myself and any other inocent person.

Posted by: Alvanos | April 29, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Can someone catch me up on what's happend in the world since the episode aired? I've been hiding in my bomb shelter afraid that the Buddhists were going to attack since Buddah was depicted snorting coke several times throughout both shows..... Come to think of it, Buddhists don't tend to PSYCHOTICALLY OVERREACT the way so many do when someone has a little fun at their expense. Neither do Hindus, Christians, Jews, so on and so on. Silly me...

Posted by: thescooby | April 30, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I once wrote a song, "We’ll be Drawing Old Muhammad on the Wall", in support of the Danish cartoonists who have been targeted by Muslim fanatics. For anyone interested, the text (and a link to the music) is here:

Posted by: RenniePet | May 1, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

so long for racism..and so long for freedom of religion and freedom of belief :) i would really laugh anytime later i hear Americans talking about freedom, u cant even respect the freedom of beliefs and religions, well not very strange for country which have double standards in everything :) look for american situation from Korean, Iranian, Iraqi, nuclear programs, and see the situation regarding same program in Israel :)

Posted by: scctvp | May 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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